BAT (British American Tobacco) has been lobbying the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia to push ecigarettes as medicine in the country. This information was revealed in the documents that were obtained under the Freedom of Information laws by ABC.
Health groups have always been against the tobacco industry and when it ventured into the ecigarette industry, their opposition rubbed onto the ecigarette companies. Blinded by their antagonism to tobacco, these groups basically made a generalization that electronic cigarettes and combustible cigarettes are the same and similarly destructive.
These health advocates are concerned that Big Tobacco can and will launch advertising campaigns that will seduce the youth into the habit of smoking and nicotine dependence. In other countries like USA, the ecig industry is worth billions. In Australia, the devices are legally contentious and they are widely unregulated.
Professor Simon Chapman from Sydney University is a long time tobacco opponent. Orwellian (‘destructive to the welfare of a free and open society”) was how he described ecigarettes as medicines. He said that down the corridor of BAT is a division who task is to think how any anti-tobacco policy like plain packaging can be ruined, thwarted and gutted.
Pushing For The Medicine Approach On Ecigs
Nicoventures, a subsidiary of BAT, was known to have first sought to meet with TGA in November last year so that it can fully explain its medicine approach on electronic cigarettes.
TGA did not disclose the name of the Nicoventures’ representative and large part of the firm’s pitch was also edited. A meeting for December 20, 2013 was confirmed and Nicoventures wrote again to say that it was motivated by the desire to help make tobacco smokers healthier.
The subsidiary tanked the TGA for giving it the opportunity for a meeting. It also added that the topic of the meeting is an area very controversial around the world. It said that it is committed in bringing the products to the market in order to reduce the harms caused by smoking to the public. Professor Chapman said that the letter was misleading.
He said that it is deceit and hypocrisy. It reflects everything that has been expected from the tobacco industry in the last 40-50 years. For many decades, these tobacco companies have been dying that smoking is addictive and has killed many people. In the brief that Nicoventures has prepared for TGA, however, it revealed all the dangers from using the products of its parent company.
It said that smoking is the single greatest cause of preventable diseases as well as the premature deaths not only in England, but in most Western countries. If the smoke cessation products can be more accepted by the smokers through offering of craving relief with quick absorption and smoking simulation, they could allow more smokers to start the journey to quitting or ecigarette substitution with the medicinal nicotine.
Reviewing Ecigarette Evidences
Professor Nicholas Talley is the president of Royal Australasian College of Physicians and he has reviewed the evidences on the devices. He said that there is no convincing evidence to support that ecigs can lead smokers into smoking cessation. There is also no evidence saying that ecigs can make smokers reduce their cigarette consumption.
Other health academics, however, disagreed. They have submitted a letter to the World Health Organization to describe how ecigarettes can potentially save lives.
Professor Talley remarked that improper ecigarette regulations will lead many young people to start smoking. He said that it will seem cool to the young people. He said that he is sure that this will happen and it is not good. He added that he believes that many young people will then switch to real cigarettes later after trying ecigarettes.
If ecigarettes would be regulated as medicines, it will mean a big problem to the ecigarette industry. Obviously, the only ones that can afford the cost of such regulation are tobacco companies like BAT. Smaller companies that offer better and more satisfying devices than the cigalikes offered by Big Tobacco will be eliminated from the competition. Moreover, the very effective tool that can save smokers’ lives will be taken away from them.