Reason Leader and Member for Northern Metropolitan, Fiona Patten, has responded to comments by Victorian Coroner Phillip Byrne, who yesterday handed down his report on the tragic death last year of an 18-month-old boy who died after consuming liquid nicotine.
“My heart goes out to the family, especially the mother,” Ms Patten said.
“This incident only goes to further reinforce that liquid nicotine used for vaping should be legalised and regulated in Australia.”
Ms Patten said that Coroner Byrne commented in his report that ‘…the legalisation in Australia of liquid nicotine for use in vaping liquid has a logical attraction if it enables regulation of content and safeguard packaging’.
“Whilst I note that Coroner Byrne stopped short of suggesting legislative change by the government, the fact that he sees a conundrum in not having liquid nicotine legalised and regulated should give the government pause for thought,” she said.
The Coroner also rightly noted in his report that ’if the product is banned in Australia, how can we in this country enforce safeguards like tamper-proof packaging of a product manufactured overseas and accessed online illegally?’.
Ms Patten said that just a few months ago, a substantial report titled ‘Understanding of and Attitudes Towards Tobacco Harm Reduction Products’ was released, which reinforced this issue further.
“Nearly 60 per cent of Australian healthcare professionals surveyed for the report said they wanted tobacco harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products to be legalised, and that they would prefer smokers tried switching to these products instead of continuing to smoke,” she said.
“Tobacco smoking is the single most preventable cause of ill health and death in Australia. Anything we can do, including the regulation of vaping products to reduce that harm is a step forward.
“It’s time that the Andrews Labor Government looked at the facts around vaping instead of listening to the rhetoric by organisations such as the Cancer Council and Quit Victoria – who believe that abstinence is the only form of nicotine harm reduction.”
Ms Patten said the health departments of New Zealand, the UK and many other countries are actively encouraging smokers to switch to vaping.
“To take a leaf out of anti-tobacco campaigner Professor Dave Abrams book, who I was recently on a panel with at the 9th Global Forum on Nicotine in Poland, ‘If you cared about people you would not stop them accessing nicotine through products other than tobacco.’ He is absolutely right on that point,” she said.
You can read more about the Global Forum on Nicotine in Ms Patten’s Opinion piece.
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