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Tas not budging on vaping

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Tasmania's strict regulation of e-cigarettes will continue despite the country's drug regulator allowing doctors to prescribe liquid nicotine from next month.

Tasmanian GPs who choose to prescribe nicotine e-cigarettes will be able to do so and pharmacies which dispense them will need to have a licence.

"They are addictive and have the potential to reverse recent gains made to reduce the smoking rate in our State and `re-normalise’ smoking within the community, which is an unacceptable risk," Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said.

"The TGA changes will have no impact on any other retail businesses, as it will only directly affect GPs and pharmacies."

The peak doctors lobby has welcomed the governemnt's response in keeping restrictions on nicotine vaping in Tasmania.

"There is growing evidence about the harms of e-cigarettes to the health of vapers," Australian Medical Association Tasmania President Helen McArdle said

"AMA Tasmania is concerned that tobacco companies are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts by targeting young people with e-cigarettes through flavourings and the normalising of vaping," 

"The message is simple: Vaping is not safe.

"AMA Tasmania supports measures to reduce smoking and vaping in our community.

"There are proven methods to help people stop smoking that are evidence-based.

"There is no evidence that vaping is a safe method or a successful method to assist people to quit smoking and vaping," she said.

It's prompted a furious reaction from the Tasmanian Small Business Council, which has accused the Tasmanian Government of seeking to undermine the TGA's decision.

“I wrote to the Health Minister three months ago seeking answers to questions about how the new national prescription access scheme from 1 October will work in practice in Tasmania,” CEO Robert Mallett said.

“For three months I had crickets from the Minister, despite numerous follows up. Only after questions in parliament was I afforded a short response.

“It is now very clear why – the measures announced by the Health Minister yesterday are bad faith implantation of the national scheme.

“To require pharmacies to apply for a $1,200 per year tobacco licence to stock these products, as well as abiding by the strict requirements of selling tobacco products is a disgrace.

“I will hazard a guess that very few – if any – Tasmanian pharmacists will seek such a licence, which will mean that Tasmanians will be required to fill their vaping and e-cigarette scripts from interstate or overseas suppliers.

“It is difficult to see how this decision helps local small business.

“The TGA has classified nicotine vaping and e-cigarette products as prescription only medicines to help people quit smoking for good reason.

“Tasmania has the second highest smoking rate in Australia, and yet the Tasmanian Government seem hell bent on doing everything they can to prevent Tasmanian residents to access this proven harm-reduction and smoking cessation product.

“Given this decision, Tasmanian retailers are fearful that the Government will again attempt to implement discredited nanny-state attempts to raise the smoking age, instead of adopting the pragmatic and progressive harm-reduction approach of nicotine vaping,” Mr Mallett concluded.

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