Young people back vape ban

May 11, 2024 BY

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the government was keen to address the alarming rates of vaping among young Australians and the industry's efforts to recruit new nicotine users. Photo: NERY ZARATE

New research has revealed strong support among young adults for removing vaping products from retail outlets.

The Cancer Council study shows more than 80 per cent of young Australians aged 18–24 either support or are unconcerned by the move.

This data comes as the Senate prepares to vote on a bill that would prohibit retailers from advertising, supplying, or commercially possessing non-therapeutic vapes.

Cancer Council tobacco committee chair Alecia Brooks said the proposed bill aligned with the existing import ban and aims to restrict vape sales to pharmacies with a prescription.

“Many young Australians report buying vapes from physical stores, including tobacconists, indicating easy access to these products.”

Associate Professor Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney warned that such easy access to vapes undermines young people’s quit attempts and called for policies to support them.

“Until the federal parliament votes in favour of this vaping bill, young people will continue to easily access, and use vapes, putting their health at risk,” Professor Freeman said.

Federal health minister Mark Butler said the government was keen to address the alarming rates of vaping among young Australians and the industry’s efforts to recruit new nicotine users.

“We now realise, several years on from this product being introduced by Big Tobacco, not just Australia, but to countries right across the world, that it was far from it being what they said it was, which was a therapeutic good designed to help hardened smokers kick their habit.

“It is now clear this is an insidious device designed to recruit a new generation to nicotine addiction.

“The tragedy is, it’s working. We know that vast numbers of high school students are vaping.

“Vast numbers of young adults out of high school are vaping and increasing numbers of primary school students are vaping.”

He said the government had already moved to “try to choke off the supply from overseas” and introduced an import ban effective from January 1.

“Already our authorities, the Australian Border Force and the Therapeutic Goods Administration have seized more than one and a half million illegal disposable vapes, taking them out of the hands of young Australians.

“The next phase of our reforms needs to be the Australian parliament passing the laws that I introduced several weeks ago.

“Those laws would outlaw the sale, the supply, and the commercial possession of vapes, other than those that are specifically approved to be available through a pharmacy on prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner.

Amid reports Big Tobacco are stepping up lobbying efforts and political donations in the lead up to the vote, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) is urging the government to resist industry pressure and back further vaping reforms.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said MPs and Senators should keep up the fight against Big Tobacco’s efforts to derail the reforms.

“Tobacco companies want to continue to profit from young people getting addicted to vaping through ease of access, misinformation about safety, and sneaky marketing that entices young people to vape through flavouring and packaging.

“We must resist industry lobbying and keep pushing to implement a consistent, robust framework to reduce rates of vaping and prevent long-term adverse health effects on population health.”

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