BALLARAT doctor Attila Danko advocates that electronic cigarettes are a viable option for the nicotine addicted.
Dr Danko, also the New Nicotine Alliance president, said Australia was “really behind the times” on legalising their claimed harm-reducing form of the puff.
“They (Australian health bodies) are basically trying to ban and make illegal a safer option,” Dr Danko said.
“They are very similar (to nicotine patches) in that smokers still get their nicotine hit but while replicating the smoking experience, only you can choose how much you have and when to stop,” he said.
He likened the choice to other harm-reducing forms, like heroin addicts using via methadone instead.
E-cigarettes are banned under Victorian poisons laws. They can be lawfully imported for personal use with a medical prescription via the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The TGA does not recognise e-cigarettes as a therapeutic product. E-cigarette products deliver nicotine via an aerosol vapour and simulates the act of smoking cigarettes without burning tobacco.
Dr Danko backs a new report in the United Kingdom, by Public Health England, that concludes e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than smoking tobacco.
The report also says there was no reliable evidence the practice was glamourising or encouraging children to take up smoking.
Cancer Council Australia and the Heart Foundation Australia remain concerned on a lack of sound research into the short and long-term impacts of e-cigarettes on public health.
In a joint position statement, both health organisations say that based on past experience in tobacco control, and early research on e-cigarettes, there is sufficient information to act on restricting retail sale, ensuring smoke-free laws across the nation cover e-cigarettes and to prohibit their advertising and promotion.
According to Quit, it is not illegal to sell non-nicotine e-cigarettes to children. The Cancer Council is concerned fruity flavours and a chance to mimic smoking re-glamourises smoking among young people and hook them on the habit.
Australian Medical Association’s clear position is “don’t start”.
The AMA’s public statement is that nicotine is highly addictive and there is no good reason to ingest it in any form.
The Association says e-cigarettes should not be confused with TGA-approved nicotine replacement therapies, including inhalers, which may appear similar but do not produce vapor.
Dr Danko said he was not encouraging people take up smoking, rather that existing smokers have the choice.