As Australia ponders permanent electronic cigarette regulation they received advice from the Cancer Council NSW. What the council advised was a set of very strict regulations that treat electronic cigarettes like tobacco. Australia already has very strict laws that potentially limit access to adult tobacco consumers. Many e-cig companies do not ship to Australia and the country classifies nicotine as a poison. Essentially, cigarettes are the easiest tobacco product that you can get in Australia.
Enter Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, a leading tobacco treatment practitioner and associate professor in Australia. Dr. Mendelsohn has been specializing in helping people quit smoking for 30 years. On the heels of the publication of the advice offered by the Cancer Council NSW, Dr. Mendelsohn spoke out.
Doctor Warns Australian E-cig Ban Could Increase Cancer
In an opinion column in the Daily Telegraph, Dr. Mendolsohn begins by saying that electronic cigarettes are a much safer alternative to smoking and that e-cigs have helped millions of people around the world to quit smoking. In his opening sentence he throws down the gauntlet and challenges the ambiguously stated positions of the generally anti-vaping bodies within the Australian government.
The doctor takes a realistic approach to vapor products. he said that nothing is totally free from risk but that risk must be considered in context with the alternative. That comes with a stern warning that heavy handed regulations could discourage smokers from vapor products and switching to a potentially safer technology. That possibility could increase the risk of cancer for Australian tobacco users.
The public opinion toward vaping in Australia mirrors the perceptions in the US, Canada and the UK. The public Down Under generally takes a negative view of vaping. Dr. Mendelsohn challenges these perceptions and points out that new data shows e-cigs have helped 6 million people in Europe quit. He points out that PHE and the Royal College of Physicians are urging that the use of e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative should be promoted not doubted and denied.
He concludes his article with some sage advice for the Cancer Council NSW and the Australian policy makers:
Cancer Council NSW should follow the recommendations of Cancer Research UK, the UK equivalent of our Cancer Council, which supports “a balanced approach towards e-cigarettes, which maximises their potential to help people quit smoking, while minimising the risks of unintended consequences that could promote smoking”. Getting the right regulatory balance is critical. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian smokers depend on it.
The future of vaping and the public perception depends on professionals like Dr. Mendelsohn speaking out and challenging the official positions of government agencies. In the US, Dr. Mike Siegel is advocating for vaping very strongly. His credentials are impeccable. He should be listened to. As should Dr. Mendelsohn. The persepctives and data that they provide to the conversation should not be ignored.
Will Australia listen to the perspective of doctor who has spent 30 years dedicating his work to helping people quit smoking? Or will the cliche arguments dominate any deliberations of pending Australian electronic cigarette regulations? That’s what we are all waiting to find out.