But the self-described former heavy then social smoker has not gone ‘cold turkey’, instead replacing the habit with tobacco and smoke-free electronic cigarettes, or e-cigs, that deliver a low dose of nicotine, or none at all, in glycerine water heated then inhaled as a vapour.
‘Vaping’ as it is known, is highly controversial in health circles internationally, with a booming online black market for the equipment.
But Pieta is critical of government bodies she says are stopping more smokers from quitting by not supporting what she says is just another form of tobacco harm reduction, much like nicotine patches.
‘I’m really disappointed in Cancer Council WA (which opposes e-cigs),’ she said. ‘And it’s a shame governments go to such lengths to not allow people to do it. I wonder about their motivation.’
She said thousands of people became ill or died because of cigarettes each year and was cynical about governments’ reliance on taxes raised by their sale.
She knew many people who had given up cigarettes in favour of e-cigs and felt healthier as a result, saying they were a cost-effective alternative to nicotine patches.
A statement issued by a Federal Department of Health and Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) spokeswoman said any website or retailer offering e-cigarettes cartridges containing nicotine was likely to be breaking Commonwealth, State and Territory laws.
‘E-cigarettes containing nicotine are prohibited from retail sale in Australia through State and Territory legislation. Some States and Territories (including WA) have regulations that apply to the sale of e-cigarette devices without nicotine,’ the spokeswoman said.
‘Except in therapeutic preparations (TGA-evaluated nicotine replacement therapies, for example) nicotine is a schedule 7 poison because it is harmful to human health and restrictions are implemented at the State and Territory level.
‘Where nicotine for use in an electronic cigarette is for therapeutic purposes (such as assistance to quit smoking), it is a schedule 4 ‘Prescription only’ medicine.
‘E-cigarettes, or their cartridges, have not been evaluated by the TGA as safe or effective. Their manufacturers have not yet provided evidence that their products are a safe and effective form of smoking cessation therapy.’