Huge changes coming to popular product
The flavours and colours of vapes and their sale in convenience stores will be restricted among a range of measures the federal government is proposing to reduce the habit described as a new threat to public health.
The Albanese government will include $234m in next Tuesday’s budget to fund the new measures to protect Australians against the harm caused by tobacco and vaping products.
The government will also work with states and territories to close down the sale of vapes in retail settings, including convenience stores, while also making it easier to get a prescription for legitimate therapeutic use.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler will on Tuesday announce the government is proposing stronger regulation and enforcement of all e-cigarettes, including new controls on their importation, contents and packaging.
Other measures proposed include stopping the import of non-prescription vapes; requiring pharmaceutical-like packaging; reducing the allowed nicotine concentrations and volumes; and banning all single use, disposable vapes.
Mr Butler said the vaping product was being taken up mostly by young people.
“This is a product targeted at our kids, sold alongside lollies and chocolate bars,” he is expected to say in an address to the National Press Club.
“Vaping has become the number one behavioural issue in high schools. And it’s becoming widespread in primary schools.”
Mr Butler said one in six teenagers aged between 14 and 16 and one in four Australians aged between 18 and 24 had vaped.
“Vaping was sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit,” Mr Butler will say.
“It was not sold as a recreational product — especially not one for our kids. But that is what it has become: the biggest loophole in Australian history.”
He said vapes contain 200 toxic chemicals that do not belong in the lungs, “the same chemicals you’ll find in nail polish remover and weed killer,”
“Just like they did with smoking, Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.”
He said Australia had significantly reduced smoking rates over the past decade, particularly since the introduction of the plain packaging for cigarettes.
“But unfortunately, even the gains we have already made could be undone by a new threat to public health,” he will say.
Vapers are three times as likely to take up smoking.
“Vaping is creating a whole new generation of nicotine addicts. It poses a major threat to Australia’s success in tobacco control and the Albanese government is not going to stand by and let this happen,” Mr Butler will say.
The budget will include $63m for an evidence based public health information campaign to discourage Australians from taking up smoking and vaping and encourage more people to quit.
There will be $30m invested in support programs to help Australians quit, and education and training in smoking and nicotine cessation among health practitioners will be strengthened.
A further $140 million for the Tackling Indigenous Smoking (TIS) program which will be extended and also widened to reduce vaping among First Nations people.