IN A MAJOR POLICY SHIFT, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has endorsed vaping nicotine for Australian smokers in the latest national smoking cessation guidelines published today.
The peak GP organisation has carefully reviewed all the evidence on the effectiveness and safety of vaping and has determined that it is a legitimate quitting aid for adult smokers.
The guidelines advise GPs and other health professionals to recommend vaping for smokers who want to quit but have tried unsuccessfully with currently available medications.
The College of GPs is to be congratulated for this shift in policy, which brings it in line with the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the UK Royal College of General Practitioners, the New Zealand Medical Association and many other medical bodies
Endorsement by the College recognises that many smokers struggle to quit with conventional treatments. Even with the best therapies, quit rates are modest and most smokers try and fail repeatedly. The only alternative for many smokers has been to continue to smoke.
Vaping now provides another effective option. Vaping is unique in that it delivers the nicotine smokers are addicted to as well as a “smoking experience” which includes the sensations of smoking, hand-to-mouth ritual and social aspects of smoking. Vaping also delivers the enjoyment and relaxation of a cigarette, but without the thousands of toxic chemicals from burning tobacco.
Ask your GP if vaping could help you quit
GPs were previously reluctant to support vaping as it was not yet approved by health authorities. However now the peak GP organisation has given its stamp of approval, smokers can ask their GP or health professional about vaping and get their support on the quitting journey. The research shows that support from a health professional increases quit rates even further.
GPs can write nicotine prescriptions where appropriate for importing nicotine e-liquids. It is legal to import 3 months of nicotine liquid for vaping if you have a prescription from a medical practitioner, under the Personal Importation Scheme
Vaping is the most effective quitting aid available. A recent study found that it was nearly twice as effective as nicotine patches and gums. Vaping is not risk-free but, according to the UK Royal College of Physicians, long-term vaping is likely to be at least 95% less harmful than smoking.
Visit your local vape shop for more advice on what device and e-liquid to use and practical help in making the switch. More information is available on the ATHRA website, the E-cigarette Academy or online forums such as Vaping in Australia or Vape Fam Australia, where you can ask questions of experienced vapers.
The new advice also gives health professionals the confidence of knowing that vaping is an approved quitting aid they can recommend to their smoking patients.
Health professionals who wish to find out more about vaping, such as how to write a nicotine prescription, can access further information by clicking the Health Professionals link at the top of the page and logging in with your AHPRA number.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org