Monday, 19 June 2017
Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to table an explanatory memorandum relating to the bill.
I table an explanatory memorandum and seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
The Bill represents the first step towards removing the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes.
Currently the Commonwealth's Poison Standard has nicotine classified in Schedule 7, which relates to dangerous poisons. Exemptions are provided for a handful of products including products packed and prepared for smoking, such as cigarettes, and nicotine-containing products for quitting smoking, such as gums and patches.
The States and Territories rely on the Commonwealth Poison Standard when determining what can and cannot be sold.
Because the Commonwealth Poison Standard provides an exemption for cigarettes but not e-cigarettes, the States and Territories allow the sale of cigarettes, but not the sale of e-cigarettes.
This makes no sense.
There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are remotely as harmful as cigarettes. A report commissioned by Public Health England concluded that e-cigarettes are in fact 95% less harmful.
And there is no evidence that e-cigarettes could lead more people to take up cigarette smoking compared to the number of people who could use e-cigarettes to quit cigarette smoking. What evidence there is suggests that e-cigarettes would reduce the overall level of cigarette smoking.
Comparable countries around the world have allowed the sale of e-cigarettes. This includes the UK, EU, and the US, and soon Canada and New Zealand will be added to this list.
Right now, Australians are free to purchase e-cigarettes, as long as they import them from a business overseas. They can't buy them in Australia from an Australian business. This is reverse protectionism. It hurts Australian businesses, misses opportunities to gather tax revenue, and prevents our regulators from regulating the sale of e-cigarettes for the good of consumers.
The bill would change the Commonwealth's Poison Standard so that e-cigarettes were classified in the same way as cigarettes. So whilst cigarettes remain exempted from classification as a dangerous poison in Schedule 7, e-cigarettes would also be exempted. The bill also clarifies that smoking is distinct from vaping, so that the regulation of smoking at airports and the advertising ban on smoking do not affect vaping.
The substance of the bill would not commence for twelve months, giving the Commonwealth Government an opportunity to make any regulations for e-cigarettes within its areas of responsibility, and to start discussions with States and Territories on the treatment of e-cigarettes in their laws.
This is a modest, sensible and practical bill, and I commend it to the Senate.
I seek leave to continue my remarks later.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.