Big tobacco’s role in vaping inquiry leaves TSANZ fuming 

Lung cancer

By Tessa Hoffman

11 Jul 2017

The TSANZ is questioning why the tobacco industry has a seat at the table of a parliamentary inquiry into the use and marketing of e-cigarettes, claiming it’s at odds with Australia’s obligations to a WHO agreement.

The thoracic society was due to provide evidence to the inquiry’s first hearing in Melbourne today, where it was to argue for vaping products to be treated like other smoking cessation aids and regulated by the TGA.

But the hearing was cancelled last week and a new date has not been set.

At this stage just one hearing will take place in Sydney tomorrow to discuss the health impacts of electronic cigarettes and vaporisers and an appropriate framework for regulation.

The roundtable will be attended by the international tobacco giant British American Tobacco Australia, along with the New Nicotine Alliance Australia, Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation and tobacco treatment clinician and public health academic Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn.

But TSANZ president Professor Allan Glanville said the society is concerned tomorrow’s roundtable line-up will not represent a balanced point of view.

The move “seems to be against the spirit” of article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to which Australia is a party, he told the limbic.

This article states that when setting public health policies relating to tobacco control, parties should act to protect them from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

Professor Glanville said the society opposes e-cigarettes being available as a consumer item when there is clear evidence they are not harm-free.

“The evidence for their use in smoking cessation is also not clear. This is why we contend that, if supported as a cessation product, electronic cigarettes should be regulated by the TGA like all other cessation products and that ongoing clinical trials must be conducted to ascertain their risks and any potential efficacy”.

The limbic contacted the inquiry’s chair Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman for comment.

He did not agree to be interviewed, but in an email said today’s hearing was cancelled due to the “unavailability of some of the committee members”.

He also said he would recommend the TSANZ is offered another opportunity to present to the inquiry.

Over 100 submissions are on the inquiry’s website, and more are yet to be uploaded.

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