Australia announces radical crackdown on 'vaping epidemic' in schools

The government unveils a $234 million plan to tackle youth vaping and prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts.

Australia announces radical crackdown on 'vaping epidemic' in schools
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Australia is set to initiate a comprehensive crackdown on the vaping epidemic, which has been identified as the top behavioural issue in high schools across the nation.

The government's plan will involve a significant public health campaign to avert the rise of a new generation of nicotine addicts and eradicate the prevalence of vaping among youths.

Health Minister Mark Butler is slated to announce a $234 million increase in the upcoming budget, marking the largest smoking reforms in a decade.

The reforms will introduce stricter regulations on e-cigarettes, encompassing new restrictions on importation and packaging.

In collaboration with states and territories, the government aims to cease the sale of vapes in retail and convenience stores, while simplifying the process of obtaining a prescription for therapeutic use.

In an effort to combat the expanding black market, the government will raise product standards for vapes, including limiting flavours and colours. These measures will necessitate pharmaceutical-like packaging, diminished allowable nicotine concentrations and volumes, and a prohibition on single-use vapes.

Addressing the National Press Club, Butler underscored the severity of the public health issue, citing instances of children as young as four being reported to Victoria's poisons hotline after using a vape.

Butler will warn that hard-earned progress in public health regarding reduced smoking rates is at risk of being reversed by this "new threat."

He explained that vaping was initially promoted globally as a therapeutic product to aid long-term smokers in quitting, not as a recreational product, particularly for children.

Butler accused "Big Tobacco" of exploiting another addictive product by packaging it attractively and adding flavors to create "a new generation of nicotine addicts."

A $63 million public health campaign will be launched to discourage Australians from taking up vaping and to promote quitting.

The government will allocate $30 million to strengthen support programs aiding Australians in quitting the habit, with an emphasis on enhancing education in smoking and nicotine cessation among health practitioners.

Additionally, the government will dedicate $140 million to a program assisting Indigenous people in quitting smoking, which will be expanded to include vaping.
Recent research revealed that 80% of surveyed teenagers aged 15 to 17 found it easy or somewhat easy to purchase vapes in retail stores.

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  • By Avi Yemini

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