Almost 90 per cent of Western Australia’s vape stores are located less than one kilometre from a school, an Australian-first study by the University of Notre Dame Australia has found.
Commissioned by Cancer Council Western Australia and published yesterday in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, the study also found vape stores in Perth were seven times more likely to be located in low socio-economic areas than in affluent suburbs.
The study identified 194 stores in WA that sold vaping products as a main form of business, with 88 per cent located a short walk from either a primary school or high school. One primary school in Fremantle has two vape stores within 200m.
Mandurah, south of Perth, had the highest number of vape stores, with seven operating within the suburb. Mandurah is also ranked as one of Perth’s lowest socio-economic areas. Midland, Cannington, Perth and Rockingham rounded out the top five suburbs, with each being home to six dedicated vape stores.
Study co-author Lisa Wood, from Notre Dame’s Institute for Health Research, said the findings were timely given that students were returning to school this week, and as the Albanese Government prepares to tighten vaping regulations to protect young people.
“We know that parents, teachers, and students themselves are struggling with the vaping epidemic in Australia, with recent Australian research finding that 14 per cent of children aged 14-17 currently vape,” Professor Wood said.
“We also know that the proximity of vape stores to schools only serves to increase young people’s access to these addictive and harmful products.”
Lead author, Notre Dame Research Fellow Dr Matthew Tuson, said the study was the first of its kind in Australia to demonstrate that “brick and mortar” vape stores were more concentrated in disadvantaged communities.