Monday, 21 March 2022

Australia's anti-vaping fiasco

Once again, it's time to laugh at Australia's misguided 'public health' policies. 
From The Age... 
Australia needs greater regulation on vaping
You can't regulate something that's illegal. 
First, they banned the sale of all nicotine-containing vape juice. Then they banned the importation of all nicotine-containing vape juice (unless you have a prescription!). So what the hell are they going to do next?
Vaping is growing in popularity...
Prohibition working well, then?

...particularly among young people, towards whom many of these products appear to be marketed.
E-cigarette marketing is also banned in Australia.
Decades of government interventions to stop people smoking tobacco – advertising bans, plain-packaging, a hefty tobacco excise and public health campaigns – have clearly made a difference in Australia. These days, only 11 per cent of Australians aged 14 or over smoke daily, compared to 24 per cent in 1991. But those gains are under threat.
The daily smoking rate of people aged 14 or over flatters Australia, but even using this measure there has been only a small decline since 2013 when the figure was 12.8%. 
In the UK, where the government actively encourages smokers to switch to vaping, there has been a much greater proportional decline in the current (not necessarily daily) smoking rate of people aged 16 or over, from 20.4% in 2012 to 14.5% in 2020. The latest figures for people aged 18 or over suggest it could be as low as 12%.
Between 2016 and 2019, the percentage of Australians aged 18-24 who had tried an e-cigarette jumped from about 19 per cent to 26 per cent...
The figures for 2020/21 were published today and they show that 21.7% of 18-24 year olds have ever tried an e-cigarette, so either vaping causes amnesia or something funny is going on in the survey. Either way, we can all agree that it's a large number of users for a product that is illegal (4.8% of 18-24 year olds are current users).
....and experts are concerned vaping acts as a gateway into smoking for some e-cigarette users.

Australia's idea of an expert is someone like Simon Chapman or Mike Daube who make Ivor Cummins look like Isaac Newton. As this article shows, they've done a comprehensive job of hypnotising the Aussie media with their anti-scientific nonsense and turning the country into a laughing stock as far as harm reduction goes. Where is the evidence for this "gateway" in Australia? If you look at the official prevalence data for this supposedly at-risk group, you'll find that...

  • People aged 18-24 years were more likely to have never smoked (83.3%) than any other age group.
There are more people of this age who have tried vaping than have tried smoking, so when does the gateway kick in? Could it be - whisper it - that people who vape are actually less likely to start smoking?
But back to the article... 

The government’s import ban on nicotine vaping products was delayed because of libertarian concerns among some members of parliament. 


Individual freedoms are important but...

There is always a "but" when people don't really think individual freedoms are important.

...when it comes to public health, they must always be weighed against broader social concerns. These include the cost to society of providing medical care for associated health problems, and the duty to protect more vulnerable Australians, like children and young people.

There aren't really any medical costs associated with vaping and insofar as 'vulnerable Australians' need protecting from e-cigarettes, prohibition clearly isn't the answer.
The evidence to suggest e-cigarettes can help smokers quit is also not strong...

Allowing vaping to continue without greater regulation is a risk Australia cannot afford to take.

What regulation do you want? You've already banned it!

Alas, the author of the editorial doesn't tell us. That is the last line of the article, so let's instead turn to the Sydney Morning Herald which has its knickers in a similar twist.

Australian doctors are calling for the ban of non-nicotine vaping products they say are designed to appeal to children and cause unknown long-term health consequences, while creating confusion that allows a black market to thrive.

The only doctor quoted in the article is a chap called Chris Moy and all he can manage is a squeal of confused outrage.

“Why are they even a thing?” he said. “They are the pinnacle of aggressive, scary, malicious marketing to children”.

If this is what passes for comment on matters scientific in Australia, it is no wonder they've ended up trying to ban things that are already banned.
Nevertheless, at least we know what the plan is now. They want to extend to the ban to e-cigarette products which don't contain nicotine. The logic must be that people are buying their devices in Australia and then buying their e-cigarette fluid on the black market.
The flaw in this scheme is that people can also buy the devices on the black market - and that is exactly what they will do. After everything Australia has gone through in the last decade, first with tobacco and now with e-cigarettes, what kind of fool still thinks that prohibition prohibits?

Meanwhile, The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age can reveal a law prohibiting the importation of nicotine e-cigarettes without a prescription has barely made a dent in Australia’s black market supply.

Well, slap my thigh! You don't say?

Since the ban came into force on October 1, Border Force has intercepted 248 shipments of nicotine vaping products at the border. This contained 144,724 nicotine vaping products, including 107,019 e-cigarettes and pods, 5823 refillable vape devices and 31,882 individual units. The records show at least 462.9 litres of liquid nicotine, and another 24,000 products did not list the quantity.

Great success! And the winning doesn't end there...

The Sun-Herald previously revealed schools across NSW are locking toilets outside break times to clamp down on students vaping.

This last story is almost unbelievable. I urge you to click on the link and read all about it, but here's a sample... 

The Herald has spoken to at least two parents whose teenage girls experienced visible menstrual bleeding at school last week as a result of not being able to quickly access a toilet. Other parents say it is causing anxiety and potential health issues for their children who suffer conditions such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and type-one diabetes.

Way to go, Australia! And all to prevent smokers having access to a product that could save their lives. You little beauties!

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