The Royal College of Psychiatrists of Australia and New Zealand has officially published its position on vaping, also known as e-cigarettes.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists of Australia and New Zealand (RANZCP) is responsible for the training and representation of psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand. The College is accredited by the Australian Medical Council (AMC) and the Medical Council of New Zealand (MCNZ) to provide specialist medical education, training and professional development programs.
Australia is facing the same scenario as Brazil, although it arises for different reasons. In Australia, e-cigarettes are allowed only by prescription. This model makes it difficult for consumers to access products and is not widely recognized among medical professionals. As a result, a large illegal market is formed, which creates an environment. It is very similar to what is happening in Brazil — with uncontrolled consumption of products without sanitary control and access to products by minors.
The Australian government insisted on restrictive rules based on a model that proved ineffective in controlling the market and consumption.
RANZCP's statement joins many other institutions and experts who support the tobacco harm reduction strategy. They show that the best way is to regulate e—cigarettes as a consumer product. A similar alternative has been adopted in more than 100 countries, such as the USA, Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom.
A document published by RANZCP presents key messages on this topic:
Tobacco use continues to be the leading cause of morbidity and mortality among people living with mental illness.
Tobacco harm reduction is an important component of any program aimed at improving the health outcomes of people who smoke tobacco, who need access to a wide range of harm reduction and smoking cessation tools, including pharmacological and behavioral ones.
Nicotine vaping products are associated with particular risks for children, adolescents and young people, unlike the adult population. It is important that regulatory approaches strike a balance between promoting accessibility for smokers and limiting access and risks for young people and non-smokers.
Nicotine vaping products are a safer alternative to smoking. They offer a harm minimization tool when first-line pharmacotherapy and/or behavioral interventions have proved unsuccessful.
Nicotine vaping products have certain risks associated with both a nicotine vaping device and a nicotine vaping liquid. Both those who use them and those who prescribe them should be aware of them. They should never be prescribed to people who are not dependent on nicotine as a result of using cigarettes or other tobacco-containing products. And they also cannot be passed on to children or teenagers.
Evidence of the effectiveness of nicotine vaping products as a smoking cessation strategy, the potential long-term harm of vaping and its role in introducing young people to nicotine addiction and smoking is developing and should serve as a basis for future services.
RANZCP recognizes the potential harm reduction benefits that vaping poses to people living with mental illness. As well as the usefulness of rules that provide access to safer versions of these products for those who want to change their tobacco use. Therefore, RANZCP recommends:
• Nicotine vaping products are becoming a common tool in the arsenal of every psychiatrist as a tool to minimize harm in the treatment of people with mental illnesses who depend on nicotine as a result of tobacco use.
• Safety standards for nicotine vaping products must continue to comply with the current requirements of the TGA (Australia) and the Vaping Regulatory Authority (New Zealand) to reduce short- and long-term harm associated with these products.
• Nicotine vaping products should not be prescribed or used by people who are not dependent on nicotine as a result of tobacco use.
• Nicotine vaping products should not be advertised among young people. And being prescribed to adults, they should be advised not to provide nicotine vaping devices to children and adolescents.
• Nicotine vaping products are subject to additional research to determine:
• long-term health effects of vaping;
• the effectiveness of electronic cigarettes and vaporizers as a means of quitting smoking;
• Demographic patterns of consumption, including the level of initiation among young people.