Fears history repeating with vaping uptake among kids

Strong vaping laws to prevent devastating health impacts on children are being pursued by the nation’s health ministers.

Legislation was introduced last month to stop the importation, manufacture, supply and commercial possession of disposable single use vapes, making the e-cigarettes only accessible via prescription at pharmacies.

The crackdown would also result in jail time or fines up to $2.2 million for breaches.

Health ministers from every jurisdiction have called on the Australian parliament to pass the legislation – which would take effect from July – amid a growing nicotine crisis for young people comparable to smoking five decades ago.

Vaping shop

Health ministers are concerned about the impact of vaping on children. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“Australian health ministers are not going to stand by and let history repeat itself,” health ministers said in a joint statement on Friday.

They are concerned the impact vaping is having on Australian children because of the easy access and how readily available e-cigarettes are – most sold at convenience stores often down the road from schools.

“It’s now clear vapes are being used to recruit a new generation to nicotine addiction, and it’s working,” they said.

The latest national data revealed one in six high school students recently vaped and young people who do it are three times more likely to take up smoking.

Young people may already be addicted to vaping but NSW Health Minister Ryan Park said this should not mean the nation sits on its hands.

“I’ve got a 13-year-old, if he decides to start vaping he’s not doing that to get off cigarette smoking,” he told ABC radio.

“He’s doing that because he’s been hooked and marketed towards a product that we know is highly addictive and that has caused untold damage.”

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler says the bill is not about prohibition but regulation of vapes. (Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS)

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the bill was not about prohibition but regulation and returning the devices to what they were originally sold as – therapeutic products.

“I mean, it’s no more prohibition than the reforms that took place around the availability of codeine,” he told reporters in Brisbane.

“What that did was return codeine to the regulation as a therapeutic good, and that’s what we’re doing with e-cigarettes.”

The Australia Medical Association supports the legislation to get e-cigarettes out of children’s hands as an opportunity to protect their health.

“I have seen firsthand the harms they cause I’ve had children in my clinics who are up in the middle of the night vaping and they can’t sleep through the night because of the level of nicotine addiction that they have and that is heartbreaking,” vice president Danielle McMullen said.

The legislation is yet to pass through parliament and the Coalition and the Greens have not given a stance.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called for the parties to get on board to pass the important reform.

“The idea that you would not do everything you can to prevent damage to people’s health, particularly young people’s health, by taking government action is something that I don’t understand,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

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