Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi has accepted an industry award for promoting the legalisation of nicotine in e-cigarettes.
- Cory Bernardi has won an industry award for supporting vaping
- The “reformed smoker” has lobbied for legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes
- A public health expert has lambasted the award
But the event has been blasted by a well-known public health expert, who described the South Australian politician as a “rather pathetic character” who was “not an authority” on the subject.
Senator Bernardi was presented with the award by Legalise Vaping Australia, a body connected to the Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance, which is known for supporting conservative and libertarian causes.
“I’m a reformed smoker, I know how difficult it is to quit, and anything we can do to minimise the damage attached to cigarettes, and get people off of cigarettes, is a step in the right direction,” Senator Bernardi said.
“Vaping is merely another means of delivering nicotine that is far less harmful than many alternatives.
“I think it’s time for the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and the Federal Government, to actually wake up and recognise what many other Western countries have done.”
Senator Bernardi said vaping would help prevent thousands of premature deaths in Australia from smoking e-cigarettes.
He also suggested it could boost the Government’s bottom line.
“The Government is forgoing tax revenue at the moment because they’re prohibiting one of the measures people can receive their nicotine fix, in a less harmful manner,” he said.
Bernardi ‘not an authority’ on vaping, health expert says
But Emeritus Professor Simon Chapman, from the University of Sydney, said little was known about the full health impacts of using e-cigarettes.
“Compared to cigarettes you don’t get all the smoke, but with 11,000 flavours on the market, we simply don’t know what the effects of deep inhalation of those microparticles are, if you do that every day up to 200 times a day, over years and years,” he said.
Professor Chapman was particularly scathing about Senator Bernardi’s advocacy.
“Senator Cory Bernardi is a rather pathetic character, he’s done abysmally in two electoral outings since he switched over [from the Liberal Party],” he said.
“He’s not an authority in any shape or form on anything to do with public health.
“If you look at who’s spruiking for e-cigarettes in this country, it’s people like him.
“If you look at who’s expressing caution, it’s every medical and health body in this country, the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Cancer Council, the Heart Foundation, the Lung Foundation, the Royal College of Physicians.
“I could go on and on about all the people who are united about the importance of taking a cautious, regulated approach to this in Australia.”
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has no plans to lift a ban on nicotine-fuelled e-cigarettes.