18 January 2023

RACGP calls for crackdown on nicotine vaping products

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) says tighter regulations on nicotine vaping products (NVPs) are critical to prevent Australians from harm.

In a submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) public consultation on Potential reforms to the regulation of Nicotine Vaping Products, the college has called for:

  • stronger border controls, including scrapping the personal importation scheme for NVPs and mandating that non-nicotine vaping products list ingredients with fines for incorrectly labelled products
  • stricter regulation of products, including an Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) registered NVP to bring vaping products into line with other medicines
  • cracking down on flavours and packaging including restricting flavours to tobacco and pharmaceutical-like packaging with warnings about risks such as poisoning and burns
  • restricting NVP supply to three months per prescription.

RACGP President Dr Nicole Higgins said vaping products that were sold as non-nicotine products, yet contained nicotine, were of particular concern to GPs.

“Big Tobacco fought Australia’s efforts to reduce harm from smoking at every step,” Dr Higgins said.

“Times have changed, and they’ve adapted by becoming Big Nicotine. Their strategies are the same, and just as cynical as ever. More and more young people who have never smoked cigarettes are now vaping and this is deeply concerning. The RACGP created smoking cessation guidelines, which include using nicotine vaping products to aid smoking cessation and that’s because we believe this is the only legitimate use of these products.

“Many vaping products sold as non-nicotine do, in fact, contain nicotine. This makes it clear that getting people addicted is a core part of Big Nicotine’s marketing strategy. It is also a strategy that attempts to side-step efforts to improve health through questionable and furtive marketing, such as use of influencers to create a new generation of nicotine users.

“Big Nicotine has taken advantage of a lower evidence base to create an impression of a safe alternative to cigarettes and built a customer base of new users including young people. We are at risk of trading one public health disaster for another.

“The RACGP understands that getting a prescription is harder than walking to the shop. But GPs are here to help, and to work with you to improve your health, without judgement. Your GP can work with you to take control of your health, and save you money, by helping you to access smoking cessation products and develop strategies that work for you.”

The RACGP’s submission to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is available here.

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