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Amid growing public outrage, Australia pauses nationwide vape ban

Last week, Australia’s Health Minister Greg Hunt announced that he would be placing a federal ban on the import of all vaping products, electronic cigarettes. and refillable e-liquids.  Enacted with very little prior notice, the ban was scheduled to take effect on July 1.  Understandably, the political move drew immediate condemnation from Aussie vapers and even several members of the Australian Parliament from both the liberal and national parties.

 Last Friday, Mr. Hunt rolled back his decision somewhat by stating that the new import ban will be delayed by six months to January 1, 2021.  The reversal came just two days after a group of 28 members of parliament (MPs) sent a scathing letter to the Health Minister.  Posted in the Sidney Morning Herald,   the MPS call Mr. Hunt’s unilateral decision “onerous” and “too rushed.”

"Regardless of our differences of opinion on that issue, we feel that this proposed regulatory change has been too rushed and risks a widespread community backlash and perverse health outcomes.
 
"We have never seen a public reaction like it. We believe that this reaction shows how many people have relied on vaping products to kick a long-term habit of smoking."
 

Related Article: New York ban on flavored vapes takes effect on July 1; even online sales banned

Indeed, the public backlash was almost immediate.  Upon hearing of Hunt’s initial announcement that a vaping ban was imminent and would take effect in about a week, the Australian vaping community banded together and started an online vape petition which quickly attracted over 52,000 signatures within its first 24 hours. 

Australian pro-vaping petition gets Hunt’s attention

The petition seems to have worked. Last Friday, Mr. Hunt expressed his empathy for smokers-turned-vapers who were fearful of perhaps relapsing into smoking should the vape ban take effect next Wednesday.  In statements published in The Guardian, Mr. Hunt said that his new prohibitory regulations on imports was originally designed to allow the purchase of vapor products only through a doctor’s prescription. 

“However, there is a second group of people who have been using these e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their cigarette smoking.
 
“In order to assist this group in continuing to end that addiction we will therefore provide further time for implementation of the change by establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP.”
 

Related Article: Australia in uproar over new vaping ban on imported e-cig and refills

For now, all parties involved seem to be breathing a sigh of relief. Liberal MP James Paterson said that the six-month extension “gives us the time to put in place a system that ensures anyone who needs access to these safer alternatives can get it.”  And the Australian vaping community feels as if their voices have been heard – at least for the time being.

A spokesperson for the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) also issued a public statement. “We’re pleased the Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt has delayed banning the importation of all e-cigarette products containing nicotine by six months.” Said VTANZ spokesperson Jonathan Devery.   “Aussies now need to use this time to push for vaping regulation, as prohibition is a death sentence.”

Related Article: GOP’s Norquist warns Trump Administration against vape bans and ‘flavor ban pushers’

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock)

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