In the largest anti-tobacco campaign in more than a decade, Australia announced on Tuesday that it will outlaw recreational vaping and tighten other e-cigarette regulations in an effort to curtail the alarming rise in teen vaping.
Mark Butler, the Health Minister, in a speech at the National Press Club, said, “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.”
The government wants to outlaw all disposable vapes—which frequently have fruity flavours—ban non-prescription vape imports, regulate nicotine levels, and restrict sales of vapes to those who want to stop smoking. To enforce this, Butler said that the tobacco tax will increase by 5% annually beginning in September, for a total increase of 3.3 billion Australian dollars ($2.2 billion) over the course of four years. This comes after a AU$234 million (US$157 million) hike for stricter regulation of e-cigarettes, including new import and packaging limits.
Vaping involves heating a liquid containing nicotine in an electronic cigarette to create a vapour that users inhale. It is largely regarded as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes and helpful for aiding smokers in quitting. However, research has indicated that the addictive nature of e-cigarettes may cause long-term harm.
“This is a product targeted at our kids, sold alongside lollies and chocolate bars,” Butler said.
“Vaping has become the No. 1 behavioural issue in high schools, and it’s becoming widespread in primary schools as well. This must end.”