Coalition senators split on vaping inquiry report
SALE of nicotine vaping liquid and e-cigarettes would be legalised and regulated to support Australia becoming smoke-free by 2027 under a bold recommendation from two Coalition senators who have broken ranks from a parliamentary inquiry into vaping to call for nicotine e-cigarettes to be legalised and regulated.
But with a majority of Senators on a parliamentary committee into vaping backing Health Minister Greg Hunt's proposed prescription model for nicotine e-cigarette users, personal importation of nicotine liquid is set to be banned from next year.
The recommendation from Committee Chair Hollie Hughes and her Nationals colleague Matt Canavan for Australia to become smoke free by 2027 wasn't adopted in the majority report of the committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction.
The dissenting report calls for sale of nicotine e-cigarette liquid to be legalised for "specialist vape retailers' with regulations treating the liquid similar to traditional cigarettes.
It recommended a "strong focus on e-cigarettes" to support harm reduction strategies "to ensure that Australia is smoke-free by 2027".
But a majority report, proposed by Labor Senator and deputy committee Chair Tony Sheldon, backed Mr Hunt's prescription model. That report was backed by Labor, Centre Alliance, and Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson.
Under the prescription model, set to come into effect next year, users would be able to access nicotine liquid through a pharmacy if they had a prescription.
"A prescription approach provides Australia with the necessary policy freedom," a draft version of the report seen by The Daily Telegraph says.
"If sufficient clinical evidence emerges that there are no long-term harms from e-cigarette use, these settings could be eased. If instead sufficient clinical evidence emerges that there are long-term harms, these settings can continue or be tightened".
The coalition split among committee members is set to stoke internal divisions in the government on the contentious issue of regulating nicotine e-cigarette products.
Health Minister Greg Hunt was forced to delay a proposed ban on importations of nicotine vaping liquid after a backbench revolt earlier this year.
The inquiry heard conflicting evidence about the value of e-cigarettes as a method to quit smoking.
The majority report said there is "not yet sufficient evidence" to support vaping as a way to quit smoking, and concerns were raised about vaping being a "gateway" to introduce smoking to nonsmokers.
The dissenting report from Ms Hughes and Mr Canavan presented evidence showing vaping had helped smokers quit and was a safer alternative for existing smokers.
Another concern raised by the majority report was that legalising nicotine vaping would see big tobacco companies profit by selling new products.
However, a recommendation from Ms Hughes' dissenting report would limit the concentration of nicotine in vaping liquids in a bid to lock out certain products sold by big tobacco.
Originally published as Coalition senators split on vaping inquiry report