The Senate has been told not to pass a private members’ bill which would legalise the sale of e-cigarettes in Australia.
The architect of the bill is Senator David Leyonhjelm, who claims Australia’s current policy deprives smokers from accessing a means of quitting and is “costing lives”.
His Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017 seeks to legalise the sale of e-cigarettes containing under 2% nicotine under Commonwealth law, exempt e-liquid containing 20 mg/mL nicotine from TGA regulation and allow advertising of e-cigarettes.
But on September 13, a committee of senators tasked with examining the Bill recommended the Senate should not pass it “until further scientific evaluation of the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes and related products has been undertaken”.
Two Labor senators on the committee accused Senator Leyonhjelm of attempting to subvert recommendations by the TGA and NHMRC against changing regulations for e-cigarettes.
An explanatory document accompanying the Bill claimed e-cigarettes have been found to assist smoking cessation and ‘no evidence’ exists to demonstrate availability encourages non-smokers to take up the habit.
There were 67 submissions to the Bill.
One was from the department of health which said efficacy as a smoking cessation aid was unproven and “relative safety of e‑cigarettes compared to tobacco smoking cannot be scientifically established”.
Allowing e-cigarettes to sit outside TGA regulation would mean vaping liquids containing harmful ingredients available would go unscrutinised, and permitting advertising would conflict with tobacco control efforts and damage the community, the DoH submission said.