Under its most comprehensive smoking reforms since more than a century, the Australian government is introducing a ban on e-cigarettes, including a strict set of import and packaging controls to discourage vaping.
Mark Butler, Australian Health Minister on Tuesday, said that vaping is a major problem among high school students and elementary schools. However he acknowledged the products can be used therapeutically in the right conditions.
Vaping is the process of heating liquid nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and then inhaling it. Vaping is often marketed as a smoking alternative and as a way to quit cigarettes. However, it has become incredibly addictive and teens and young children all over the world are now addicted to vaping.
Butler stated that 'Vaping is a therapeutic product sold to governments and community groups around the globe to help smokers who have been smoking for a long time quit.'
It was not marketed as a product for recreational use, and especially not to our children. It has now become the biggest loophole ever in Australian history.
Butler announced the new regulations. He said that non-prescription vapes would be banned from being imported, and vapes products will have to be packaged in a pharmaceutical-like manner, with the intention of only selling them as products designed to help smokers stop smoking.
Butler said that all disposable and single-use vapes, including those with bright colors and flavors that attract younger users, will be banned.
Butler stated that the product is sold along with chocolate and lollies to our children.
"Big Tobacco, just as they did with cigarettes, has taken an addictive product and wrapped it in slick packaging, adding flavors to create a whole new generation of nicotine addicted people."
The only way to legally sell nicotine vapes in Australia before the announcement Tuesday was to have a prescription from a doctor. However, these products were widely available across the country.
Butler says that a 'black market' has developed in convenience stores and gasoline stations, where nicotine vapes are sold without warnings or labels to minors.
The health minister said that vapes will no longer be disguised as highlighter pen pens so kids can hide them in their pencil case.
Butler stated that nearly $20 million would be spent to help Australians stop vaping, and more than $41 million for a youth-focused national information campaign. Butler said that Australia's tobacco taxes will be raised by 5% annually over the next three year starting September 1.
In Australia, young people use vapes in a disproportionate manner despite the fact that the country has among the lowest rates of tobacco smoking among member states of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Butler stated that one in six teens aged 14-17 has tried vaping and that one in four adults aged 18-24 have also done so. Butler said that the availability of vapes across the nation was shocking. Four out of five teens say they can buy them at their local stores without hesitation.
Vaping is a growing concern around the globe
Researchers have discovered links between nicotine dependence among children and adolescents as a result increased vaping. Researchers have also linked teenage vaping to psychological problems, headaches and stomach aches, as well as significant nicotine addiction.
Some people claim that e cigarettes are a great alternative to regular cigarettes. In some countries, they're even marketed as a smoking cessation device. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, says that e-cigarettes do not pose a risk to youth, pregnant women or young adults.
The CDC has also warned that nicotine is highly addictive, and can damage the brain development of adolescents, which continues until the mid-20s.
The use of vaping by minors has been a growing problem in high schools across the US. This has prompted the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take action against 'epidemic' levels of usage. According to the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, 2.55 million US middle and high schoolers use e cigarettes.
A study published in JAMA Network Open found that adolescents who vape also start younger and use e-cigarettes with greater intensity.
The United Kingdom, meanwhile, is addressing the high levels of vaping among youths but promotes it as a way to help smokers who have been smoking for a long time quit.
The British government announced in April that up to 1 million smokers would be encouraged to switch to vapes.
The British Department of Health announced that under the scheme, almost one fifth of smokers would receive a "vape starter kit" along with behavioral support in order to kick the habit. The government will offer pregnant women financial incentives to quit smoking, a first in the world.