Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (19:52:14) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Mental Health, Minister Foley, and the action I seek is an immediate end to the ban on nicotine for use in personal vaporisers. Currently we are the only country in the world that has such a ban. According to the Victorian government’s own website, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) works, is safe and easy to buy. Currently NRT, as it is known, comes in the form of patches, chewing gum, lozenges, mouth spray and inhalers, but the juice that people use in their vaporisers is still illegal.
When I visited New Zealand recently I saw that there were far more vapers than there were tobacco smokers. On the first day in Auckland I did not see a single smoker but I saw a significant number of vapers. In fact while I was there the New Zealand Ministry of Health issued a position statement on vaporisers which included among its key messages that e-cigarettes could contribute to their Smokefree 2025 plan. The statement later says:
There is no international evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking among adults and youth, and may in fact be contributing …
to that decline.
Similarly, the Royal College of Physicians in London has offered a series of key recommendations. They include that e-cigarettes:
… are proving much more popular than —
other forms of —
NRT as a substitute and competitor for tobacco cigarettes.
E-cigarettes appear to be effective when used by smokers as an aid to quitting smoking.
… the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed 5 per cent of the harm from smoking tobacco.
That is less than 5 per cent of the harm from smoking tobacco!
There was a recent parliamentary inquiry report in the UK called State of the Vaping Nation. Again, it makes a significant number of public recommendations. Following the Royal College of Physicians, it also said that in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, nicotine replacement therapy and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK. It is a misnomer to suggest that vaping is anything but NRT.
I call on the minister to reverse the existing penalties for the possession of vaping nicotine, which can currently attract a fine exceeding $15 000.