If e-cigarettes have become the definitive alternative to tobacco in most countries, the rule doesn’t apply to Australia. Indeed, e-cigarette users in Australia are not immune to fines, despite their desire to stop smoking tobacco.
Proof that e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes is widespread. And yet it’s illegal to smoke e-liquids in Australia because nicotine is considered a poison.
The Australian Medical Association believes that there is insufficient proof of the supposed benefits of e-cigarettes to consider them a “socially acceptable alternative” to tobacco. The association believes that authorizing the use of e-cigarettes would make “smoking” seem banal and would reduce anti-smoking efforts. This assessment, of course, goes against recent scientific studies and findings.
E-cigarette defenders step into the fray
In response to the ban, e-cigarette defenders are trying to make themselves heard. These supporters include Clive Bates, former director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH). He deplores banning devices that he considers truly helpful for reducing tobacco consumption.
Bates has encouraged the Australian government to look to the United Kingdom as an example. Initially sceptical of e-cigarettes, the English now officially encourage smokers to use such devices. Clive Bates has taken the fight to heart—he knows that using them could prevent 500,000 tobacco-related deaths in the following ten years.
The Australian government doesn’t seem to want to change its position on e-cigarettes, and so the debate continues. While health experts continue to hide behind a principle of caution, the number of e-cigarette advocates continues to grow. Indeed, in Canberra e-cigarette supporters wish to open a parliamentary inquiry to revaluate the government’s position on the matter.