Academics and researchers seeking to push for the legalisation of nicotine for use with electronic cigarettes have accused the current Australian law of protecting big tobacco.

Currently e-cigarettes are legal for purchase in Australia however the sale and possession of the nicotine used in e-liquid is illegal however forty academics from Australia and around the world have written to the Therapeutic Goods Administration in support of an application from the New Nicotine Alliance, a not-for-profit that supports safer alternatives to tobacco, to allow e-liquid or refills with nicotine content to be legally sold.

The group has requested the medicines regulator exempt nicotine from its current standing in Australian law, to help ‘reduce the harm caused by tobacco.’

They argue that as the law stands it is ‘discriminatory’ and ‘unethical’ to continue to allow the sale of tobacco containing nicotine whilst banning the 'much lower-risk' alternative e-cigarettes.

'I just don't understand the logic of having nicotine in the deadly form of tobacco cigarettes widely available while nicotine in the much safer form of e-cigarettes is outlawed,' said Professor Ann McNeill from Kings College London.

'The current situation in Australia protects the cigarette business, encourages smoking and increases the risk of disease.'

Opponents to the amendments have suggested that allowing e-cigarettes to be used by the 2.8 million smokers in Australia may help ‘re-normalise’ smoking, however in the letter the researchers address these concerns by saying that “there's no credible evidence to suggest e-cigarettes undermine tobacco control, reduce quit rates or encourage young people to take up smoking.”

This advice correlates with a recent UK government report that states that vaping ‘over 1.3 million UK e-cigarette users have completely stopped smoking’, with e-cigarettes providing a public health opportunity that should be ‘certainly encouraged.’

Please note Gamucci cannot and does not recommend using e-cigarettes to stop smoking tobacco.

This letter will be used as part of an application that will be considered by the Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling – with a response and interim decision expected in February.

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