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March Roundup

April 1, 2018

It’s bad news for our friends down under – despite a yearlong inquiry, Australian MPs can’t make up their minds regarding the ban on vaping and for now, it is staying intact.

Be grateful for living in Britain – vaping is still banned in Australia! Liquid nicotine is classified as a poison in Australia which means both the liquid and nicotine e-cigarettes cannot be sold legally. After a 12 month long inquiry, wherein both big tobacco and the medical community and big tobacco weighed in with contradictory evidence on vaping as a useful tool for quitting smoking, no verdict has been reached.

Although there was evidence supporting e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative than traditional cigarettes, there was also sufficient concern regarding both the long-term effects of vaping as well as the risk of attracting a younger market. The younger generations have been smoking cigarettes less than the generations before them and the worry is that the allure of vaping could make them nicotine-dependent.

Many of the committee members were disappointed with the inquiry’s results.

Committee Chair, Trent Zimmerman, stated that the board had been presented with “starkly conflicting views” during the process, but he “strongly disagreed” with the decisions made by his colleages.

“… While the evidence base regarding e-cigarettes is still emerging, there are clear indications that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful to human health than smoking tobacco cigarettes.” He wrote, “If long-term smokers who have been unable to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes switch to e-cigarettes, thousands of lives could be saved.”

It doesn’t look like Australia will have a definitive answer any time soon.

In some more bad news, be careful what you vape with. A vape store owner in the US was arrested in March for selling synthetic cannabis marketed as vape oil! The owner of the vape shop in Mooresville was caught by police selling the illegal substance as a vape oil after a young man overdosed on product in February.

The student, who went to purchase “Black Diamond” CBD oil, got a nasty surprise when the oil turned out to contain a synthetic cannabinoid with two Schedule I Drug chemicals. One of these chemicals has some truly harrowing side effects including violent outbursts, vomiting, seizures and loss of consciousness. It has also been linked to sudden death in the past.

The store owner, Rashad Naji Mohsen Al Hubaishi, will face felony charges for selling a schedule I substance. We can only hope no others were duped into smoking the synthetic cannabinoid under the impression they were vaping! How aware the store owner was of what he was selling is also unclear.

And on a more positive note, America may very well become the world’s first country to limit the amount of nicotine present in cigarettes.

America is making moves to become the first country to force big tobacco companies to make their products less addictive. In March, The Food and Drug Administration announced its plans to set in place a maximum on the ‘amount’ of nicotine cigarettes are allowed to contain. This would be a tremendous step in limiting people’s addiction to smoking – by limiting how addictive cigarettes are.

The plan was first mentioned last year during the FDA’s new plan to regulate tobacco and nicotine nationwide.

“We believe the public health benefits and the potential to save millions of lives, both in the near and long term, support this effort,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

The new nicotine regulation model was imitated in a study for the New England Journal of Medicine and demonstrated how the policy could help at least 5 million American smokers quit altogether in one year as well preventing 33 million Americans from taking up smoking at all by the year 2100.

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