Australia taking more steps to crack down on smoking, vaping

Streaming HUBMay 2, 2023
  • Australia is increasing tobacco tax by billions of dollars over the next four years as the government looks to phase out smoking and vaping.
  • The country’s health minister says the government is also banning recreational vaping to protect the next generation from nicotine addiction.
  • Australia is also launching a $42 million public health campaign to discourage residents from taking up vaping and encourage users to quit.

Australia’s tobacco tax will increase by billions of dollars over the next four years as the government cracks down on smoking and vaping.

Health Minister Mark Butler said on Tuesday that recreational vaping would be banned as the government seeks to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.

Starting in September, the annual tobacco tax will be raised by 5% — a total increase of $2.2 billion over four years, Butler said. This follows a $157 million push for tighter regulation of e-cigarettes, including new controls on their import and packaging.

“Vape contains over 200 chemicals that aren’t in the lungs. Some of the same chemicals you’ll find in nail polish remover and weed killer,” Butler said.

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The government will work with states and territories to stop the sale of vapes in retail and convenience stores and make it easier to obtain a prescription for medical use.

To tackle the growing black market, the government will raise product standards for vapes, including restricting flavors and colours. This would require pharmaceutical-like packaging, a reduction in maximum permitted nicotine concentrations and amounts, and a ban on single-use vapes.

vaping in australia

A man uses a vaping device on March 23, 2023 in Melbourne, Australia. Recreational vaping will be banned as the government attempts to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine. (Diego Fedele/AAP Image via AP)

“It’s a product targeted at our kids,” Butler said. “Vaping has become the No. 1 behavioral issue in high schools, and it’s becoming more widespread in elementary schools. It must end.”

Butler said gains from hard work in public health related to smoking reduction could be undone by a “new threat”.

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Steve Robson, president of the Australian Medical Association, the country’s leading doctors’ group, supported the move. “We know a new generation of Australians are addicted to vapes and this is a great initiative,” he said.

Erin Lalor, CEO of the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, said the majority of people in Australia were using unregulated products with no idea what was in them.

“Some people who vape, including young people, may unknowingly consume nicotine and constitute a dependence,” she said.

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A $42 million public health campaign will be launched to discourage Australians from taking up vaping and to encourage those who have already quit. A $20 million investment will boost support programs helping Australians to quit vaping, and strengthen education about smoking and nicotine cessation among health practitioners. The government will give a further $94 million to a program to help Indigenous peoples stop smoking, which will be expanded to include vaping.

According to government data, Australia has one of the lowest smoking rates among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development countries, with 11.2% of Australians 15 and over smoking in 2019.

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