The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport will inquire into and report on the use and marketing of electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes) and personal vaporisers in Australia, in particular:
1. The use and marketing of E-cigarettes and personal vaporisers to assist people to quit smoking;
2. The health impacts of the use of E-cigarettes and personal vaporisers;
3. International approaches to legislating and regulating the use of E-cigarettes and personal vaporisers;
4. The appropriate regulatory framework for E-cigarettes and personal vaporisers in Australia; and
5. Any other related matter.
The emergence of electronic cigarettes (E-cigarettes) in the past decade has required governments around the world to grapple with how to regulate this product.
The scale of the challenge facing governments can be seen in the growing number of E‑cigarette users in the United States of America (USA) and in the United Kingdom of Great Britain (UK), which are already in the millions. Currently, the E‑cigarette industry is estimated to be worth more than $US 6 billion globally per annum.
In addition, the regulatory decisions facing governments are made more difficult by the lack of certainty regarding the health impacts of E‑cigarettes. As the E‑cigarette is a device that has only recently come into widespread use, there is limited, and often conflicting, research available in relation to the impact of E‑cigarettes on smoking rates and the health implications of long term E-cigarette use.
In Australia there has, to date, been a precautionary approach taken to the regulation of E‑cigarettes containing nicotine. The sale of nicotine E‑cigarettes is prohibited unless approved as an aid to help people quit smoking and, so far, no E‑cigarette has been approved for this purpose.
Internationally, the regulatory response to the emergence of E‑cigarettes has been varied. In some countries there has been a similar approach taken to that of Australia, and the sale of some, or all, types of E‑cigarettes is prohibited. In contrast, other countries including the USA and the UK have opted to make E‑cigarettes legally available.