Lung Foundation Australia are urging pharmacists to not engage with the tobacco industry giant Philip Morris International (PMI) backed patient support scheme for nicotine vaping products. In Australia, nicotine vaping products can only be obtained by prescription through a doctor as a last-line smoking cessation aid. Details of the controversial program, outlines PMI’s plan to give pharmacists payments for referral of patients to get prescriptions for nicotine containing vaping products, providing education about vaping and dispensing fee associated with sale of their product.
Tobacco Industry has no place in healthcare – and should have not have the ability to provide incentives (financial or other) to healthcare professionals, directly or indirectly. All current evidence states nicotine vaping products do not have substantial evidence to be used as smoking cessation aids. There is no e-cigarette, regardless of nicotine content, that is approved as safe to use, and in Australia we have many other proven safe and effective smoking cessation aids that smokers who are wanting to quit should speak to their doctor about.
The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has publicly condemned both PMI and any pharmacists who are involved for this clearly unethical scheme. PSA President yesterday said, “no healthcare professional should accept financial incentives or support from a tobacco company. Big tobacco cannot, and should not, be trusted with the health of Australians.” and then going further to note that no e-cigarette product is registered as a medicine and the TGA has told the sector that nicotine-vaping did not help patients stop smoking.
Whilst the launch of the VEEV Pharmacy Program has now been postponed, Lung Foundation Australia plead to pharmacists and pharmacies to not sign up to any scheme associated directly or indirectly with Big Tobacco, as it will undermine the trust that Australians have on their local pharmacist and contribute to poorer health outcomes for the community. LFA will not work with any pharmacy or pharmacist who is involved, and reiterate the importance of ensuring public health is separated from Big Tobacco, their subsidiaries, and lobbyists. This is just another reason we need a revitalised National Tobacco Strategy.