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Australia bans recreational vaping in major public health crackdown

By Grace Lynk 29th July 2023 4 Mins


Australia has set out its plans to ban recreational vaping and introduce a tobacco tax in a major public health crackdown. The new reforms proposed by the Australian government will see a nationwide disposable vapes ban.

This would result in a major crackdown on the import of non-prescription products, amid fears of an ‘epidemic’ issued by health experts. Mark Butler, the health minister for Australia, is the man behind these radical changes, following fears that vaping products are creating a new generation of nicotine addicts across the country.

In a press release, Butler said:

“I am determined to stamp out this public health menace because that’s what I think it genuinely is.

“They should only be available in therapeutic settings, which is essentially pharmacies.

“It was not sold as a recreational product — especially not one for our kids. But that is what it has become: the biggest loophole in Australian history.”

Those relying on vapes to help curb their smoking habit will find e-cigarettes restricted to pharmacies, with harsher quality standards being introduced for vaping products.

These minimum quality standards will limit flavours, colours, nicotine concentrates and other ingredients in vapes that are currently designed to act as cessation tools.

Nicotine vapes already require a prescription in Australia, but the industry remains so poorly regulated that the country’s black market is still thriving.

Colin Mendelsohn, the founding chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association said:

“The vast majority don’t have a prescription, less than ten percent in fact.

“So the response has been we’ve created a huge black market which is filling that gap and supplying illegal, unregulated products freely to young people.”

Despite the concerns of underground selling, Mark Butler has insisted that the government will make it easier for people to get a prescription for ‘legitimate therapeutic use’ following the reforms.

At current, in order to prescribe vaping products, a medical practitioner must apply to become an ‘authorised prescriber’.

Not only will pharmacies be the only place where vapes are available, all products will require pharmaceutical-like wrapping following Mark Butler’s concerns surrounding ‘shiny packaging and added sweet flavours’. These reforms have been met with an influx of backlash, with tobacco companies, vaping lobbyists and even harm reduction experts believing the new rules will mount to prohibition.

Christopher Snowdon, a vaping and harm reduction advocate said:

“Australia is not a leader in tobacco or vaping control. It is an international laughingstock that has created a massive unforced error and is too proud – or too stupid – to back down.”

Anger has been intensified by the fact that tobacco tax is only being raised by five percent over the next three years, with no talk of a cigarette ban in the health minister’s reforms. Vaping Bogan, an Australian Youtuber, said in a video addressing the issue:

“Their idea is that a more expensive cigarette is a less attractive cigarette, which we all know is rubbish.”

The vaping personality also said in the same video:

“If history has taught us anything about prohibition, it’s that it doesn’t work in shutting down a black market.”

Other countries have taken different approaches towards the future of vaping, with the UK introducing the world-first ‘swap to stop’ scheme and New Zealand regulating vapes like cigarettes.

David Littleproud, the National Party leader, has previously argued that Australia should go down the same route as New Zealand, but Mark Butler has confirmed the government have no intention of following suit. As it stands, disposable vapes will vanish from the country outside of pharmacies, whereas the only impact on cigarettes will be a slight increase in price over the next three years.

An outright ban will see millions of vapers reverting to combustible tobacco, ironically creating a worse ‘epidemic’ that will likely be met with even more prohibition by the Australian government



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Grace Lynk