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Who is ATHRA and what do they do for vaping?

Posted by Shaun Blair on

ATHRA - Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association.

ATHRA is health promotion charity focusing on reducing the harm from tobacco smoking. Four independent Australian medical practitioners formed ATHRA in October 2017.

ATHRA believe in the use of E-cigarettes as a harm reduction for users of tobacco products who cant give up the habit.

The formal objectives of ATHRA are:

(a) To improve public health by educating the Australian public on the health, financial and social consequences of tobacco smoking, tobacco related harm, and evidence-based strategies to quit tobacco smoking and for tobacco harm reduction;

(b) To encourage complete cessation of tobacco smoking in Australia;

(c) To help and support smokers to effectively quit tobacco smoking and to make informed choices in the tobacco smoking cessation process;

(d) To provide evidence-based information on the role of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes in reducing tobacco harm to:

i. smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit tobacco smoking with currently approved methods; and
ii. health professionals.

(e) To disseminate accurate evidence-based information in relation to nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes to alleviate widespread misperceptions of the public and health professionals about vaping and nicotine which are undermining its potential as a tobacco harm reduction strategy;

(f) To disseminate information on the legal pathways available to access and use nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes, and to educate tobacco smokers as to the responsible, safe and correct use of nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes based on medical research;

(g) To discourage the use of all electronic cigarettes by non-smokers and minors;

(h) To take action to assist with or effect the elimination of the promotion of smoked tobacco products and tobacco smoking;

(i) To engage in research into tobacco smoking cessation aids, tobacco smoking cessation strategies, tobacco harm reduction strategies, and to encourage such research by other individuals and organisations;

(j) To collaborate with other individuals and organisations in Australia to further these objectives;

(k) To apply the income of the organisation solely to promote these purposes; and

(l) To do any and all such acts and things as are conducive or incidental to the attainment of the above objectives.

Meet the Board of Directors 

Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn

Colin is a now a tobacco treatment specialist helping smokers to quit, with a special interest in less harmful alternatives to smokers who cant quit tobacco use.

  • General Practitioner for 27 years.
  • He is a member of the Expert Advisory Group that develops the Australian national smoking cessation guidelines.
  • Past Vice President of the Australian Association of Smoking Cessation Professionals, Australia's peak body for experts in the field of smoking cessation.
  • Currently involved in teaching health professionals and research in smoking cessation and has published widely in the field.


Dr Alex Wodac AM 

Dr Alex has been interested in tobacco harm reduction since 1992, He has published a number of papers on smoking cessation among prisoners.

  • Director of drug and alcohol service at St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, from 1982 until he retired in 2012.
  • In his retirement he works on drug law reform in a volunteer capacity.
  • Started first needle syringe program with colleagues in 1986, and first medically supervised injecting centre in 1999 when both were pre legal.
  • Foundation president of the international Harm Reduction Association (1996 - 2004).


Dr Joe Kosterich

Doctor, speaker, author, media presenter and health industry consultant, Joe wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.

  • Writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications and is also a regular on radio and television.
  • Called on for giving medico advice in legal cases.
  • Maintains a website and a blog with health information and commentary.
  • Self published 2 books, Dr Joe's DIY Health and 60 Minutes Better Health.
  • Held senior positions in the Australian Medical Association and sat on numerous industry and government boards.
  • corporate experience with setting up and management of medical centres and in helping businesses maintain a healthy workforce.



Dr Catherine Silsbury

Dr Catherine is an addiction Medicine Specialist

  • obtained Masters degrees in drug and alcohol studies and Forensic Mental Health.
  • Worked in Addiction Medicine since 1991 and is a fellow of the Chapter of Addiction Medicine (RACP).
  • Specialist in Addiction Medicine  in Western Sydney Local Health District (2011 - current) and previously worked in that capacity in the NSW prison system (2000-2011)
  • Involved in previous social justice campaigns and regards tobacco harm reduction as essential within substance use services.


Stephen Elsoms

Stephen is a semi retired mental health nurse. He is a consumer representative for ATHRA.

  • Published over 60 peer - reviewed articles
  • Attracted over $6 million in research funding
  • smoked over 200,000 cigarettes.
  • Tried quitting many times but always went back to his 20 a day habit
  • Started vaping in 2015, hasn't smoked cigarettes again
  • Encourages smokers to switch to vaping

ATHRA is funded by donations from businesses and the general public. They do not accept donations from tobacco companies or their subsidiaries.

They do accept donations from the vaping industry. Two vaping businesses provided funding for the initial legal and website costs of establishing ATHRA.

All donations are untied and all spending is at the discretion of the ATHRA Board of Directors, in line with the written objectives of the organisation and our Constitution.

Gifts over $2 are tax deductible. To make a donation please go to the Donation page and use the link below.


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