Big Pharma is no better than Big Tobacco

Like I said in my speech on freedom in August 2021: “Many times over the past year I have addressed the Senate on the subject of freedom as a counterbalance to medical tyranny.”

The speech was delivered in relation to the Covid lockdowns triggered in Australia from March 2020 in the name of ‘public health’. Meanwhile, another significant, but largely unknown, medical tyranny has been inflicted on Australians.

For “public health” reasons, nicotine vaping products (NVPs) have come under strict regulation after instruction from state and federal governments. Vaping products – which now require a prescription – are commonly used as a replacement for harmful alternatives such as cigarettes and cigars.

Although widely recognized in studies worldwide as a means of quitting smoking, they have only been used by prescription to “balance the need to keep adolescents and young adults from vaping nicotine (and potentially smoking)”. Curiously, young adults can still start smoking directly without a prescription.

There is no guarantee that a prescription will be issued, even to current smokers looking to quit. Comments made alongside the regulatory change make clear that physicians “have no obligation to prescribe a nicotine vaping product if they do not believe it is appropriate” and add a strong preference for the use of gum and of existing patches.

From October 1, 2021, consumers will need a prescription for all purchases of nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine. This includes purchases from Australian and overseas pharmacies. It remains illegal for other Australian retailers, such as tobacconists, ‘vape’ shops and convenience stores, to sell you nicotine vaping products, even if you have a prescription. – from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

This risks establishing a “nicotine vaping cartel”.

Cartels act like monopolies, and whether intentional or accidental on the part of state and federal governments, consumers will find the price of vaping products kept artificially high. At the same time, quantity and quality should drop.

None of this seems to be in the interest of “public health”. Vaping products are primarily used by smokers to help them quit smoking, with vaping being 95% less harmful (according to the Royal College of Physicians in the UK).

Smoking and vaping are closely related industries – being substitutes, not complements – for each other. The responsiveness of these interdependent industries is called “elasticity” by economists.

There have been dozens of studies over the past decade, including the 2021 Canadian study which found: “The literature on cross-price elasticity emerging from the analysis of massive data banks [supports] that both types of products are substitutes rather than complements.

A 2021 US study among others further quantified that: “A $1.00 increase in the price of e-cigarettes reduces e-cigarette sales by approximately 29%, while a $1.00 increase in the price of cigarettes reduces e-cigarette sales. by around 7%, while a 2018 Australian study concluded: “Countries with less restrictive NVP policies would be associated with lower demand for cigarettes.”

In short, when a government encourages vaping, it eats away at tobacco’s market share. Surely that would be in the interest of “public health”?

The question must be asked why Australian state and federal governments go out of their way to demonize vaping when their stated goal is the health of citizens. Cui bono, or who benefits?

Financially, producers and tax recipients of cigarette sales stand to lose the most from a thriving vaping market. In particular, Australia’s “sacred” Therapeutic Goods Administration – which imposed the regulations – depends on these industries for its funds. According to the TGA, “the vast majority (about 96%) of [their] funding is generated by [industry] fees and charges.’

That 96% translates to roughly $178 million of their $185 million revenue in 2020-21. Although not everything comes from the tobacco industry, some does.

The new laws are already in effect, with a $170,000 fine imposed on vaping advertisers and importers by the TGA in November, a month after their implementation. This figure included eight infringement notices worth $106,560 given to Mason Online regarding alleged advertising infringements.

The TGA’s 2020 Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) formed the basis of the Medical Vaping Regime (MVR). It had all the hallmarks of a predetermined outcome in favor of a Monopoly medical model. That is, he did not seriously consider practical alternatives such as a Competitive consumption model, no proper cost-benefit analysis was carried out and the regulator undertook its own review.

The latter is of most concern, given that it does not meet the Australian standard of best practice since the formation of the National competition policy (NCP).

The TGA vaping hub has a webpage regarding the next scheduled MVR review where it says: “Regulatory reforms will be reviewed in the second half of 2022.” There is really only one organization in Australia capable of undertaking a comprehensive, impartial and inclusive review of MVR: the Productivity Commission (PC) – specifically in terms of Productivity Commission Act 1998 (CP law).

I’m understandably very suspicious of all oversized institutions and corporations, but the TGA’s hypocrisy over Big Tobacco ‘freezing’ while shamelessly ‘being in bed’ with Big Pharma really goes ‘to- beyond pallor.

The TGA further justifies this with Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which states that: “In establishing and implementing their public health policies on tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from the commercial and vested interests of the tobacco industry. in accordance with national law.”

First, Australia is sovereign, it is not controlled by the WHO and its overlords in Beijing. Second, “public health policy” should not be about “tobacco control” and prohibition, but about reducing the harms of tobacco for free and consenting adults. Third, Big Med, Big Pharma, Big Public Health and Big Government are just as much “business and vested interests” as Big Tobacco. All have a jaded past with despicable political regimes.

So, since Big Pharma is no better than Big Tobacco, the TGA must let the Productivity Commission do its job in 2022. May the best model win.

Malcolm Roberts is a One Nation Senator for Queensland. This article was co-authored by Darren Brady Nelson – Chief Economist at LibertyWorks Brisbane and Policy Advisor at the Heartland Institute.

Do you have something to add ? Join the discussion and comment below.

About Aldrich Stanley

Check Also

Congress should repeal the Durbin Amendment, not extend it to credit cards

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., wipes down his phone with a disinfectant wipe before the start …