In Australia, psychiatrists are encouraging the government to allow the use of e-cigarettes containing nicotine. Their request relies on solid arguments based both on their experience and on reliable scientific data.
People suffering from mental illnesses generally are heavy smokers. According to a study conducted by the RANZCP (Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists), 70% of schizophrenic and 61% of people with bipolar disorders are smokers, while only 16% of the population who doesn’t suffer from any mental illnesses smokes.
A regular use of traditional tobacco cigarettes increases the risk of illnesses and the life expectancy of patients with psychiatric disorders is reduced by 20 years compared with the general population. For RANZCP psychiatrists, the e-cigarette could be an ideal substitute for people who are addicted to nicotine while minimizing health impacts of tobacco use. These facts are totally in line with litterature reviews: studies have shown that e-cigarettes reduce the risk of developing a cancer.
For e-cigarettes opponents, among which Michael Moore, the President of the Public Health Association of Australia, restrictions to limit the spread of tobacco use among the Australian population are needed. And according to Moore, these restrictions should also apply to e-cigarettes. Today, in Australia, it’s legal to buy vaping devices but the sale, possession or use of nicotine-containing products are totally prohibited due to the fact that nicotine is classified as poison.
Dr Colin Mendelsohn from the University of New South Wales has, on the contrary, recently declared that the Australian Medical Association (AMA) was taking a « prohibitionist view » on vaping, a disgraceful attitude in total contradiction with the needs of people suffering from mental illnesses.
The AMA President, Dr Michael Gannon, rejected the arguments of the RANZCP. According to him, the College of Psychiatrists rely solely on their own patients in defining its positions towards vaping. They are not seeing the global picture and considering the entire population. He added that a less restrictive regulation of the e-cigarette market would open the door to a massive tobacco use.