A study conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) found that between 2020 and 2023, the number of Australians using vaping devices has surged by a staggering 45 per cent.
This increase comes despite strict government regulations aimed at curbing the use of vaping products, including strict laws to regulate the sale and use of e-cigarettes and vaping liquids.
On October 1, 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) imposed a ban on the sale of vaping products without a valid prescription, to control their distribution and usage. The move was intended to protect public health and prevent young Australians from taking up vaping.
One of the most concerning aspects of the AIHW report is the thriving black market for vaping products. While legal avenues for obtaining vaping products have been severely restricted, a clandestine network of suppliers has emerged, offering a wide variety of vaping devices and liquids without any regard for age restrictions or health standards.
Government officials estimate that the illegal vaping market has grown by 60% since the prescription-only law was enacted. These unregulated products pose significant risks to consumers, as their safety and quality are not subject to any oversight or testing.
The Australian Health Minister, Mark Butler, is aware of the challenges posed by the booming black market for vapes.
“We are committed to protecting the health of all Australians, and we are taking this issue seriously. We will be exploring additional measures to curb the illegal vape trade while ensuring access to vaping products for those who genuinely need them,” Mr Butler said.
Health experts are alarmed by the increasing use of vaping devices, both legally and illegally.
“The rise of under-the-counter vapes not only undermines the government’s efforts to regulate the industry but also puts individuals at risk,” said Dr. Emily Stevens, a public health advocate.
“We are seeing an increase in vaping-related health issues, and it’s imperative that we take action to address this growing problem.”
As the government continues its efforts to combat the black market and reassess vaping regulations, the challenge remains to strike a balance between safeguarding public health and providing access to vaping products for those who rely on them for smoking cessation.