Policy in a puff of smoke: vexed options on vaping regulation

Research on e-cigarettes outsourced by the Department of Health is due in June. It’s a polarised debate: should vaping be encouraged and controlled, tightly restricted, or banned?

By the end of June, the Department of Health should be in a better position to advise on what is to be done about electronic cigarettes, when an outsourced policy research project on the controversial public health issue is due for delivery.

January 9 was the closing date for tenders from anyone who fancies they can identify and analyse policy options on vaping, as the pastime is known. Health’s requirements include a summary of evidence around “the risks and potential benefits to population health” as well as analysis of existing regulations at all levels of government and attempts to discourage e-cigarette use in Australia, international responses, and any other information that could shine a light on the pros and cons of the devices. The department specifies:

“This information should include but may not be limited to: prevalence of use of electronic nicotine delivery systems, records of adverse events (such as poisonings from nicotine ingestion), environmental health issues, and marketing practices including public relations and lobbying.”

The research project will then need to identify “policy options to minimise the risks” of e-cigarettes, put together a discussion paper and run a “targeted consultation process with key stakeholders who have relevant technical expertise and knowledge”.

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