The Federal Government has backflipped on an announcement that it would stand by its ban on electronic cigarettes, a minute later announcing that there would be a parliamentary inquiry into reviewing the ban.
The battery operated devices were banned earlier in the year based on an interim decision by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA).
E-cigarettes have proven their ability to help smokers quit, reportedly responsible for millions of people quitting smoking as reported by The Conversation.
Despite the fact that nicotine cigarettes are readily available for purchase, the ban meant that users could not buy or import nicotine without a prescription.
University of New South Wales associate professor Colin Mendelsohn said vapers were forced to find an alternative solution from the illegal black market.
“Without regulation, the contents of nicotine refill bottles are a mystery, labels are inaccurate, childproof bottles are not mandated and there is no quality control or manufacturing standard,” he said.
Electronic cigarettes have been found to be 95% less harmful than cigarettes News.com.au reported.
“If every Australian smoker switched to e-cigarettes more than one million lives could be saved,” it said.
In their ruling the TGA classified that even tiny concentrations of nicotine must be classified as a poison.
In a statement to News.com.au on the 25th of May, assistant health minister David Gillespie said the government would stand by the ban.
“After consideration of the available scientific information and the extensive public submissions for nicotine, the TGA’s final decision on this application was there should be no change in regulations,” he said.
One minute later there was a follow up statement issued by Parliament’s health, aged care and sport committee Trent Zimmerman that said there would be an inquiry into the laws.
“The Inquiry will investigate the health impacts of e-cigarettes and personal vaporisers, as well as their marketing and use as an aid for people attempting to quit smoking,” he said.
Currently there is a Senate red tape enquiry into the effects of tobacco retailing on the economy and the community.