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Ice Pipe Ban Bill Puts Lives at Risk

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 17 October 2019

Tags: Health, Drug Policy

Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

The Health Minister, Sarah Courtney, today tabled a Bill to ban the sale of ice pipes that, if passed, will put people’s lives at further risk.

Australian Department of Health information confirms that smoking is the most common method for taking ice, with the alternative being injection. If the Hodgman Government is successful in banning the supply of smoking pipes, this would increase the likelihood of people either sharing pipes, or injecting.

The so-called Health Minister’s bill increases the risk of ice addiction, overdoses, infectious disease transfer and vein collapse in ice users. It will add to the misery of addicted users and the spread of disease, and it also contradicts Tasmania’s harm reduction approach used for other illicit drugs.

Nowhere in this Bill is health prioritised. Ms Courtney appears to be purely motivated by the Liberals’ obsession with the failed 'war on drugs' approach to managing addiction.

The injection of any illicit drug - including ice - increases the risk of addiction, overdose, and the transfer of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C. Sharing of smoking pipes, which is likely to become more common if the Bill passes, also increases the risk of infectious disease transfer.

A program in Vancouver, Canada, running for ten years has distributed crack pipes to reduce harm, in a similar fashion to Tasmania’s needle and syringe exchange program. As a result, Vancouver saw a significant decline in health problems associated with smoking that drug.

This morning in Parliament, Minister Courtney could not indicate any beneficial health outcomes from this retrograde bill, nor could she provide any evidence to justify it.

It is extraordinary that Tasmania’s Health Minister is attempting to wind back Australia’s decades-long, successful, harm reduction approach to drug use. Instead of protecting and offering effective treatment programs for individuals and communities suffering from ice addiction, the Liberals are pushing laws that demonise individual users and ultimately benefit criminal syndicates.

The Greens are resolute in our long-standing commitment to public health principles of harm reduction. We will be voting against this Bill when it comes before Parliament for debate.

Instead of dabbling in the Corrections portfolio, Minister Courtney should stick to her actual responsibility - the health of Tasmanians.

Instead of putting people’s lives at risk with populist, tough on crime law, she should be investigating the programs used in Vancouver, along with properly funded drug treatment programs.