23 September, 2020: Forcing consumers seeking a safer alternative to smoking to visit a GP, get a vaping prescription, then go to a pharmacy during their restricted opening hours to purchase these products is not only doomed to fail in a health sense, says the Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), it’s a slap in the face to small businesses across the country.
AACS CEO Jeff Rogut says the interim decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to make vaping products only available to people from pharmacies with a prescription is both dangerous to health and a missed opportunity for responsible retailers.
“The TGA still has an opportunity to embrace common sense. This absurd proposal can be revised. It must be, if our health authorities are serious about helping people looking for a safer alternative to tobacco,” Mr Rogut says.
“It makes no sense to make it harder for people to access products that are safer for them. There is a positive health outcome that is simply being ignored.”
AACS has for years called on Government to regulate the legal sale of e-cigarettes and vaping products to support people looking to quit smoking traditional tobacco by offering them easy access to these products at times convenient to them, through proven responsible retailers.
But to date, the Government has not had the decency to respond.
“Convenience stores are responsible sellers of restricted products like legal tobacco and are more than capable of retailing vaping products in line with proper regulations, such as age limits, quality control standards and tamper-proof packaging,” Mr Rogut says.
“Government has consistently refused to look at such regulations, allowing the black market for vaping products of unknown ingredients and from dubious sources to grow.
“To force consumers to make a doctor’s appointment, pay for the visit, then visit a pharmacy that is not open for extended hours is ludicrous. The process is obviously too expensive and inconvenient for people. It makes access to safer products more difficult, which defies logic. Instead, it encourages them to continue their habit and abandon their efforts to quit.
“Meanwhile, our more progressive and considerate neighbours in New Zealand have regulated access to vaping products for people seeking an alternative to tobacco. Retailers can apply for a specialist license to provide these products to customers at a time and in a way that has the potential to benefit them.
“Australians deserve the same consideration from their Government. A review of this short-sighted decision is essential,” Mr Rogut says.
Chief Executive Officer
Australasian Association of Convenience Stores
Ph: +61 467 873 789