The family doctor who gives cigarettes to his 14-year-old son to stop him vaping

Should e-cigarettes be prescribed to help smokers quit a deadly habit? It’s a controversial question which meets with different answers in different territories, as readers of ECigIntelligence will know. If you’re a close reader, you may even know in some detail who thinks what where (officially, that is).

Even in Australia, where vaping is regarded more sceptically and regulated more strictly than in many other countries, the official answer is a qualified “yes”. In fact, nicotine-containing e-cigs can only be acquired legally in Australia if prescribed by a doctor. Which clearly amounts to official approval of a sort.

Now let’s consider one Australian family doctor who could, if he so chose, apply to the Therapeutic Goods Association to become an authorised e-cig prescriber. Given the personal family story he felt so strongly about that he took it to the press, it seems fair to assume he’s unlikely to make that choice.

In fact, with two teenage kids he describes as being addicted to vaping, he has the kind of visceral response that is no doubt common to many anxious parents parents perhaps with shaky memories of their own rebellious teenage years. Other parents may indeed nod and sympathise with his dilemma. One sincerely hopes, however, that not too many follow the same path to deal with the problem.

Because Jason (not his real name whether the pseudonym is really there to protect his kids’ identity or his own must be moot) has turned the question we began with on its head, asking: Should cigarettes be prescribed to help vapers quit?


The shouting stage. Because that works


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    Jason, by his own account, “tried shouting and all that sort of thing” to get his 14-year-old son to stop using e-cigs. “It doesn’t work, because nicotine is highly addictive,” he says. Rather overlooking the fundamental parenting question of whether shouting “and all that sort of thing” can ever be an effective way of guiding adolescent behaviour.

    He also tried giving the kid nicotine gum, which was, he says “a waste of time because the amount of nicotine in gum is so minimal compared to the amount you get from vaping that it did nothing for his cravings”.

    There is no doubt a genuine issue here, one that neither regulators nor the vaping industry itself have yet come up with a foolproof solution for. We may be reasonably sure, though, that the “solution” finally arrived at by Dr Jason is not to be recommended.

    As The Guardian reports it: “Jason has resorted to giving his son two cigarettes a day to replace the vape.”

    Yes, you did read that right.

    It sounds like the daftest instance we’ve met yet of the apparently all-too-common misperception of the relative risks of smoking and vaping. It also sounds dare we say it? like a self-confessed case not only of law-breaking but of child abuse.

    And a curious new twist on that old chestnut the supposed “gateway effect”. Does youth vaping lead to smoking? Yes, if Dr Dad starts handing out the ciggies.

    Aidan Semmens ECigIntelligence staff

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    Aidan Semmens