Parliament: Speeches on Bills

Tobacco Products Regulation (E-Cigarette Regulation) Amendment Bill

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: The Dignity Party supports the bill. My staff, on my behalf, availed themselves of briefings from the Australian Vaping Advocacy, Trade and Research group and the Cancer Council about the bill. Both briefings were very informative. It is clear that the community and the industry around vaping and cigarettes have moved at a pace much faster than current regulatory processes. The Cancer Council has provided a wealth of information, and I thank them for that very much.

I also congratulate them on their recent Quit With Hado promotion on Triple M radio. Initiatives such as this are key to continuing to lower South Australia’s smoking rate. The Cancer Council provided information that is of extreme concern. According to a New South Wales government health fact sheet:

Tests of e-liquid samples collected by NSW Health in 2013 showed that 70 per cent of the samples contained high levels of nicotine even though the label did not state nicotine as an ingredient. As a result, NSW Health released a public health warning in October 2013 to inform the public about the risks of e-liquids that contain nicotine.

An honourable member: That was quick.

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: I am good, but I am not that good. As we all know, nicotine is a highly addictive substance. According to a Public health Association of Australia submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry, they state:

The available evidence strongly suggests that young people who may never have ended up as smokers are trying e-cigarettes. This conclusion is supported by evidence about the promotion and advertising of e-cigarettes. Producers and advertisers are using tactics similar to those seen for tobacco in the past, to get and retain new users while they are young—the time when most tobacco use patterns are established.

This information was based on a 2016 report from the US Surgeon General. So, we have young people at a vulnerable time in their lives, perhaps during adolescence, and we have a product that, even when it is advertised as being nicotine free, may actually contain not just some nicotine but high levels of addictive nicotine.

When we delve behind the image of the e-cigarette as a harmless pastime there may be something more sinister afoot. Add in some fruity flavours—someone told me about a strawberry shortcake flavour recently—and surely this could be attractive, particularly to young people. I have similar concerns about the use of things like vodka cruisers, which often taste much more like a soda than alcohol. I think it can be all too easy, particularly for young people, to forget that they are actually consuming something that can be highly alcoholic. An article published by the American Chemical Society in August this year, indicates:

E-cigarettes likely represent a lower risk to health than traditional combustion cigarettes, but they are not innocuous…Vapers’ toxicant intake was calculated for scenarios in which different e-liquids were used with various vaporizers, battery power settings and vaping regimes. For a high rate of 250 puff day using a typical vaping regime and popular tank devices with battery voltages from 3.8 to 4.8 V, users were predicted to inhale formaldehyde (up to 49 mg day), acrolein (up to 10 mg day) and diacetyl (up to 0.5 mg day), at levels that exceeded U.S. occupational limits. Formaldehyde intake from 100 daily puffs was higher than the amount inhaled by a smoker consuming 10 conventional cigarettes per day.

I will repeat that: formaldehyde intake from 100 daily puffs was higher than the amount inhaled by a smoker consuming 10 conventional cigarettes per day.

The vaping fraternity likes to promote the use of e-cigarettes, or vaping, as a smoking cessation strategy. The Cancer Council stresses that neither vaping nor e-cigarettes qualify as an approved pathway at this point to quit smoking under the Therapeutic Goods Act. A lot would shift were e-cigarettes and vaping to come under the act, but they currently do not.

In line with the precautionary principle, ‘First seek to do no harm’, Dignity Party is pleased to support the government’s initiative in seeking to regulate the sale, supply and use of e-cigarettes. The decline in the rate of smoking in South Australia is to be applauded, but it must not be taken for granted.