Australian Conservative Cory Bernardi On The Vape Train

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Let the people vape.

Cory Bernardi, defector from the Liberal Party who formed his own Australian Conservatives party, has recieved an award from Legalise Vaping Australia for his advocacy of legalising nicotine use in e-cigarettes.

“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. “It’s a proven harm reduction strategy. The government’s completely detached from reality.”

As usual, the ABC, and to a much more bitchy extent, Junkee, sought to protray him as a wonk and an idiot. Citing well-known “tobacco control” activist and academic Simon Chapman, the ABC and Junkee were sure to include his personal disdain for Bernardi.

Need I caption this?

Chapman said Bernardi was “not an authority” on the subject. He later said; “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.

Junkee’s article goes on to say:

“The people and groups that disagree with Bernardi include: the National Health and Medical Research Council, the Therapeutic Goods Association, Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Cancer Council, the Lung Foundation, Australia’s Chief Medical Officer Chris Baggoley, the Heart Foundation, and the Royal College of Physicians.”

in November 2017, The Australian reported that Public Health England, a British government agency, had written to the Australian senate. They accused Simon Chapman, among others, of putting a “series of factual errors” to a parliamentary inquiry into vaping and the use of e-cigarettes, which are legal and widely used in Britain.

“The agency defended a widely cited 2015 British study that claimed smoking e-cigarettes was 95 per cent less harmful than smoking tobacco (because e-cigarettes do not contain carcinogenic tobacco) against claims the authors were influenced by tobacco industry funding.

“The claim is false. Correction or retraction has been received where the claim has been made (in UK media),” it said.”

The Tobacco tax is currently at 70 cents per stick and increases by 12.5% twice a year in March and September until 2020. Small businesses are hurt the most by this.

A study published in 2017 from the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, found that the illegal tobacco trade in Australia is driven by the extremely high rate of taxation on tobacco. It found the main market of illegal tobacco is migrant communities with much higher smoker rates than in the mainstream community.

Colin Mendelsohn, nicotine dependence and tobacco treatment specialist at the University of Sydney, said in 2016 that smokers are more likely to be socio-economically disadvantaged, including being jobless. He wants to see Australia adopt the UK’s approach. “E-cigarettes are the most commonly used aid to quit smoking in the UK.” he argues.

This means these socio-economically disadvantaged groups, many being migrant communities, instead of being helped to transition out of smoking, must pay the extremely high prices of tobacco thanks to Australia’s massive levels of taxation. Alternatively, they can save on their costs of living by buying into the illegal market, greatly increasing the health detriment as the illegal market is completely unregulated.

In 2016, news.com.au reported the illegal trade was “flourishing”, with cigarette pricing set to rise over 4 years:

“Serious and organised crime will use the same infrastructural spine upon which it imports prohibited drugs to import tobacco,” said Border Force CEO Roman Quaedvlieg in 2015’s senate estimates.

“We are seeing an increase in organised crime entities involved in this. I put it down partially to the fact that the excise in duty payable on tobacco is increasing.”

The 2017 QUT study also states in its conclusions, “The Australian Government loses $1bn per year in tobacco tax because of smuggling. The illicit supply also means that the social goal of the tax, namely, dissuading tobacco consumption, is undermined.”

Possession of nicotine in Australia (outside of tobacco form) carries jail terms of up to two years and fines up to $45,000, significantly greater than penalties for mid-low range drunk driving. It is truly bizzare when you have voluntary euthanasia and heroin rooms being legalised and adopted as mainstream policy on the left, but nobody outside right-wing third parties will support nicotine vaping to help people off the government revenue-raiser of tobacco.


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Pop and Locke is a libertarian-traditionalist popular culture and politics blog bringing you news, opinions, analysis and reviews that cut through the mainstream mould. It was inspired by an appreciation for Western political and philosophical tradition and a fascination with our increasingly wacky popular culture.

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