Australia announces crackdown on vaping

By AFP   May 1, 2023 | 05:40 pm PT
Australia announces crackdown on vaping
A saleswoman holds an e-cigarette as she demonstrates vaping at the Vape Shop that sells e-cigarette products in Beijing, China January 30, 2019. Photo by Reuters/Thomas Peter
Australia's health minister on Tuesday announced a sweeping crackdown on vaping, accusing tobacco companies of deliberately luring in teenagers to hook the next "generation of nicotine addicts".

Billed as the country's largest anti-smoking reforms in a decade, Australia will ban single-use disposable vapes, halt imports of non-prescription versions, and restrict how much nicotine e-cigarettes may contain.

Australia has long been at the vanguard of attempts to stamp out smoking, and in 2012 became the first country to introduce "plain packaging" laws for cigarettes -- a policy since copied by France, Britain and others.

Heavy taxes on tobacco sales mean Australia has some of the most expensive cigarettes in the world -- selling for around Aus$50 (US$33) for a pack of 25.

But in recent years, Australia has struggled to contain the explosion in recreational vaping, particularly among teenagers.

"Vaping has become the number one behavioral issue in high schools. And it's becoming widespread in primary schools," Health Minister Mark Butler said in a speech excerpt.

"Just like they did with smoking, Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavors to create a new generation of nicotine addicts."

People will still be allowed to use vapes, with a prescription, as a tool to quit cigarettes.

"Vaping was sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit," Butler said.

"It was not sold as a recreational product - especially not one for our kids."

Australia has one of the lowest daily smoking rates in the world, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, but has seen an increase in the number of under-25s taking up cigarettes.

Both the Australian Medical Association and the Australian Cancer Council have praised the government's reforms.

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