As more smokers try to reduce or eliminate traditional tobacco by using products like vaping materials and e-cigarettes, and these products continue to get more popular on the market, Australians are wondering just what it is about this type of product that has invoked so much ire from regulatory agencies.
Experts in the industry are revealing that because of some specific kinds of government setups, it’s hard to do accurate research on e-cigarette products and get them to market. This is leading consumer advocates and others to look into the issue and ask whether, as smoking cessation tools and potentially health-improving devices, these items should be more accessible to Australians, the way they are to some users elsewhere in the world.
The Regulatory Regimen
In Australia, products like e-cigarettes need to be vetted by the Therapeutic Goods Administration – a sort of rough parallel to the U.S. Food and Drug administration which is largely the sole regulator in the U.S. Experts point out that this government agency is regulating e-cigarettes as if they were medicine, not a consumer product. There are complaints about the handling of licenses and other processes for e-cig products. Some liken the treatment of e-cigarettes to hard substances such as heroin or cocaine, and claim that there’s a kind of blanket application to controlled substances that is unjustly applied to vaping and e-cigarettes in particular. Just this week, the government voted on additional regulations to tighten down further on ecig products and their usage.
A Double Standard?
Some Australians point to examples of potentially harmful drugs that are kept on the market. For example, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has been slow to ban certain pharmaceuticals from the market, even after requiring warnings or taking other action based on potential health risks. In fact, some proponents of e-cigarettes are citing a Pfizer smoking cessation medication called Chantix that was left on the market after various types of warnings about potential suicides.
By contrast, e-cigarettes have been found to be relatively free of negative side effects and health risks. So why are they being regulated so harshly?
In some people’s opinions, what it comes down to is that the government simply doesn’t have the right tools and processes in place to correctly judge e-cigarettes by their merits. Some are arguing for a comprehensive smoking cessation regulation, while others want e-cigarettes to be regulated more as traditional tobacco has been, as a consumer product you can get over the counter anywhere.
This argument also takes place within the general context of worldwide markets and how they treat e-cigarettes. Countries have to balance the potential health risks that they find for these products against a massive upside in terms of controlling health-care costs and saving lives. For example, in America, we know the impact of traditional smoking, and how important it is to use any and every type of resource, including awareness campaigns, and actual anti-smoking cessation programs and tools, to improve people’s health. That’s why many people are hoping that in Australian and elsewhere, these products continue to move to market as governments acknowledge their power to save people from some of the worst health conditions they will face during the lives.