Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists endorse vaping

Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists endorse vaping

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) supports the availability of vaping devices with nicotine as consumer products for smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit.

In its new Position Statement on vaporisers, the RANZCP, the professional organisation of psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand supports legalising nicotine for vaping and regulations that are proportional to their level of risk.

According to the RANZCP, 'people living with mental illness have high smoking rates, smoke more heavily and have greater difficulty quitting. Smoking is the leading cause of the poorer health and mortality outcomes suffered by this group'.

Vaping  may be of special benefit to this group as they provide a less harmful way to deliver nicotine for smokers who are unable or unwilling to stop smoking tobacco. Smoking rates in people with severe mental illness have not decreased over the last 20 years.

Although 'the level of risk is likely to be far less than smoking' regular cigarettes, the College recognises that there are some uncertainties and more research is needed. However in the meanwhile it says:

'This does not justify withholding what is, on the current evidence, a lower-risk product from existing smokers while such data is solicited'

The College recognises that smoking rates in Australia have not declined recently for the first time in decades and that 'tobacco harm reduction is an essential component of any policy framework that aims to improve health outcomes for people who smoke'.

The College supports the potential use of vaping for cannabis as well as tobacco as a way of reducing the harm in those who wish to continue using it.

The Statement notes the growing evidence for the success of vaping overseas. Results from large population surveys and clinical trial are encouraging. Also, 'smoking rates continue to fall among young people in countries that have widespread access to vaping products... coinciding with continuing declines in youth tobacco smoking rates'.


The College recommends regulations that are proportional to the low risk of vaping and which allow individuals to have appropriate access at reasonable cost:

  • Nicotine should be made available as a consumer product for vaping by an exemption from the Poisons Standard
  • Minimal taxation to encourage uptake over smoked products
  • Safety and quality standards
  • Minimum age of sale
  • Appropriate restrictions on advertising and display
  • Further research

E-cigarettes and vaporisers. RANZCP Position Statement, October 2018

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn,


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