Why does the UK, US and Australia have different E-cigarette policies?
Jun 16, 2023
An e-book has just been published, titled “E-cigarettes and the comparative politics of harm reduction.” The book compares the policy responses to nicotine vaping in the UK, United States and Australia. The final chapter of the book brings together a number of fascinating themes. When analysing each country's policy decisions, contextual factors such as the state, pre-history of nicotine and tobacco policy, political parties in power, professional and activist networks and ideas from other fields, such as drugs and HIV, had an influence in shaping the direction of policy. Each state's policy was framed by views of either protecting existing smokers or protecting young people, while existing policy commitments and policy communities played a role in the interpretation of the evidence.
Australia's policy has faced criticism for its stricter approach and its status as an outlier from the global norm. On the other hand, other countries such as the US, Canada and New Zealand have implemented more permissive policies. The paper highlights the complexity of the factors influencing regulation of e-cigarettes and how concepts such as “evidence” and the precautionary principle are mediated through policy context. Pre-existing commitments critical informed policymaking in relation to e-cigarettes, calling for further investigations into the role of policymakers and risk reduction efforts.