A man uses a Philip Morris iQOS e-cigarette in Tokyo, Japan May 12, 2017. Reuters/Issei Kato

Australian doctors and giant tobacco company British American Tobacco have told federal parliamentarians that the country must make e-cigarettes easily available to smokers as it is a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes. Health experts, who are also advocates for drug law reform, stated that smokers who can’t kick off the habit should be allowed to switch to a better alternative.

The US and UK have already provided smokers easy access to nicotine vaping products and less harmful e-cigarettes. According to the experts, Australians should also be allowed their daily hit without the toxic smoke that does harm to the human body. Currently, even though e-cigarettes are legal Down Under, possession or sale of the nicotine used in them are not. This needs to change, according to the head of Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation Dr. Alex Wodak.

A study conducted by a public health agency in England has found that e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent safer than combustible cigarettes. Dr. Wodak took the example of this study to spread awareness about the importance of making these electronic cigarettes easily available in Australia. The country must facilitate easy access to a varied range of products that will appeal to smokers who want to quit. Dr. Wodak wants flavoured nicotine liquids to be made legal as soon as possible.

“It's very important, in harm reduction and public health generally, to have your intervention (be) attractive to the people most at risk. I think having a vibrant vaping community network, through the distribution of vaping shops, is very important from a public health perspective,” Dr. Wodak told The Australian.

Reports have made it clear that smoking rates had fallen in the UK and US as these nations are e-cigarette friendly. A 2014 EU study shows promising figures stating six million Europeans had quit tobacco cigarettes with e-cigarettes. The study also said that almost all vapers were former smokers, and there was no evidence that e-cigarettes were turning non-smokers to smokers.

“The reality is that many smokers are unable or unwilling to quit. We can't just sacrifice them,” an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW, Colin Mendelsohn, told the federal parliamentary committee.

Mendelsohn is a GP and a tobacco treatment specialist who helps smokers quit the killer habit. A 2015 Australian study revealed that two-thirds of smoking Aussies would die from smoking-related diseases. Stay tuned on IBT AU for more updates on the e-cigarette debate in Australia.