Fears for kids over loophole in new vaping rules
Exclusive: New rules aimed at reducing vaping should include a time limit for doctors prescribing nicotine-containing vaping products, according to the nation's peak medical body.
The Australian Medical Association (AMA) also wants the scripts,
which become prescription-only from next June, restricted to smokers trying to kick the habit.
"The AMA recommends including a time limit for prescribing these products to ensure that patients who do not intend quitting cannot have access to an ongoing supply," Australian Medical Association president Omar Khoshid said.
"The prescribing criteria must also specify that nicotine-containing products may only be prescribed to current smokers (so non-smokers do not become addicted), and we strongly recommend that the changes should be evaluated after 12 months to assess the impact on smoking rates."
Ahead of the changes, the AMA has demanded quality standards be imposed on the vapes and are that they be supplied in child-safety proof packages with warning labels.
Last year an 18-month-old died after ingesting liquid nicotine from his mother's e-cigarettes.
And a 2017 Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drugs Survey showed that 13 per cent of students were using e-cigarettes and vaping was on the rise.
Schools have been warning parents students are suffering nicotine poisoning from new smokeless vaping devices that have the same amount of nicotine as two and a half packs of cigarettes.
Experts fear the products are undermining years of hard won gains in stamping out smoking.
Quit Victoria is backing the AMA and director Sarah White said available evidence shows that new smokers who use e-cigarettes have an increased risk of taking up smoking compared to those who have not used e-cigarettes.
"Quit is supportive of any new scheme ensuring that e-cigarettes are not used by people who don't currently smoke," she said.
It is currently illegal under state law for anyone to sell or supply nicotine containing e-cigarettes but individuals are able to import up to three months' supply for their personal use.
Earlier this year the federal government announced it was delaying plans to impose an import ban on nicotine containing vaping products and would instead move to make them prescription only from June 2021.
The TGA said this means people will need a prescription from their doctor to obtain the products which will only be available from a medical supplier or a pharmacist.
Anyone importing the products without a prescription will face fines of up to $222,000.
A recent News Corp investigation found numerous vaping shops were supplying nicotine filled vaping products in breach of the law.
Sydney mum Jacqueline Woods said high school students were easily able to purchase the products from people selling them from car boots outside railway stations.
She recently found 40 vapes stashed in a hole in the fabric of her teenage daughters bedhead.
"I was so angry. My husband went up and he removed her bedroom door. So she has no door on her bedroom anymore," she said of the punishment she imposed on her daughter.
Ms Woods said she had filled her daughter's time with multiple sports to distract her from vaping and she now has a new boyfriend who does not smoke. But she still comes across weekly ads on social media for illegal vaping products.
A parliamentary inquiry into vaping has been inundated with over 8000 submissions mainly in favour of vaping.
And petrol company Ampol said it wanted to trial selling e-cigarette products through its large network of convenience stores.
Ms White described this as "a brazen attempt from mercenary groups within the retail industry to influence politicians and to profit from Australian smokers".
Deputy chair of the committee paediatrician Dr Mike Freelander has condemned the inquiry as "a thinly veiled attempt from big tobacco companies to push their agenda upon our Parliament".
A recent study from the US showed e-cigarettes aren't a useful for smoking cessation, with daily e-cigarette users 30 per cent less likely to quit smoking that those who did not use them when trying to quit.
An Australian National University study found people using nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation were significantly more likely than people using other therapies to continue using these products after one year.
Originally published as Fears for kids over loophole in new vaping rules