Thursday 20 September 2018

Popcorn Time: Australia Is Wobbling On E-Cigs

The Australian Guardian reported on Tuesday that the Aussie government is to set up a new inquiry into e-cigs.
The health minister Greg Hunt has agreed to an independent inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes after a concerted push in the Coalition party room over several months to legalise vaping. 
Several MPs raised the issue in Tuesday’s party room meeting, saying there was widespread support within the government for making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available.
This is significant considering Greg Hunt famously said that legalisation of vaping would never happen 'on his watch' last year. It may be political pressure which has forced his hand, but I reckon deep down he's quite relieved that the decision has almost been taken away from him because Australia - and, consequently, Greg Hunt - is fast becoming a laughing stock while all other developed nations are moving to sensibly regulate safer nicotine products.

This announcement has, of course, been welcomed by tobacco controllers keen to find out if vaping can lower smoking rates, just as they have always wanted. Oh, I'm sorry, my bad. I was confusing tobacco control with other professions who have integrity, of course they didn't welcome it, they reacted in their customary manner. By issuing veiled threats.

The prospect of a truly independent inquiry absolutely terrifies the tobacco control industry, which is why they routinely rig evidence-gathering for policymakers, as I have written about many times. My personal favourite is, coincidentally, from Australia as explained by Catallaxy Files.
In 2012 Professor Melanie Wakefield of the Victorian Cancer Council was awarded a $3 million contract to conduct a national tracking survey of tobacco consumers (and recent “quitters”) immediately prior, during, and after the implementation of plain packaging. Professor Wakefield has previously been a member of the National Preventative Health Taskforce that had recommended the implementation of plain packaging, she was a member of the Federal Government’s Expert Advisory Group on plain packaging, and was then was commissioned by the Health Department, in the absence of a tender process, to investigate the efficacy of the very policy she had recommended, designed. and implemented. Unsurprisingly the results of her research (with several co-authors) supports the efficacy of plain packaging as a policy to reduce the prevalence of tobacco consumption.
And yes, that's exactly how the tobacco control scam has worked for decades. Imagining, preparing, setting questions for, and marking their own homework. It's corruption, basically.

So of course the desiccated Sydney pensioner is going to feel threatened. After all, truly independent inquiries don't cherry-pick rare outliers and try to build doubt about products on the basis of pure prejudice like a Sydney pensioner would. A truly independent inquiry takes the body of evidence and weighs up costs against benefits to come to a sober policy conclusion. Tobacco control industry 'independent' research is always - and I mean always - conducted by state-funded anti-smoking lobbyists with huge conflicts of interest, is preconceived to come up with a certain result, and counts only costs, never benefits.

If tobacco control is scared of this inquiry, it could well be properly independent and could be a massive embarrassment to the bunch of senile dinosaurs in Oz who still cling to the idea that e-cigs can be banned forever in order that they can proudly remain in the elite club of basket case nations who continue to do so.

Australian tobacco controllers will also be scared about a truly independent inquiry because it might show that they have been paid barrels full of money for pathetic and inconsequential tobacco control ideas, while nations which have permitted alternatives have left Australia in their wake.

You know what the likes of the Sydney pensioner and his geriatric old farts need right now? Some real world statistics to prove that their policies are wildly successful. Yes, that would be the ticket! Something to show those federal MPs that they are barking up the wrong tree with vaping and should just carry on listening the old guard, like always.

Cue South Australia, then, and their latest stats on smoking prevalence, also released on Tuesday.

Oh dear. Not a good look, is it?

Yep, despite huge regular 12.5% tobacco tax increases and plain packaging, South Australia's smoking rate is almost exactly the same as it was in 2012. And what are they going to do about this? Incredibly, they are planning to legislate to follow other states down the regulatory path of equating e-cigs with smoking and banning vaping in public places as well. The stupid is very strong down under.

While smoking rates have been plummeting in countries like the UK and US since 2012 when e-cigs went mainstream, in Australia they have just trodden water despite the most hardline authoritarian anti-tobacco policy environment of any developed nation in the world. Just as in perfect population level experiment in the UK and Ireland, Australia - to its embarrassment - is proving that coercion is not successful, while encouragement and harm reduction is.

No wonder, then, that Greg Hunt is probably mighty relieved right now. He will have had people urgently whispering in his ear that he and his government are starting to look like clowns, and that maybe he should back pedal a bit. And politicians really don't like looking like clowns.

This should be incredibly interesting to watch - fortunately from 10,000 miles away - so I'm breaking out the popcorn. If Australia does a U-turn on prohibition of e-cigs, we are going to have sooo much fun! 

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