Federal Health Minister Mark Butler has announced a ban on recreational vaping and a tax hike on tobacco products over the next three years.
Mr Butler stated that single-use disposable vapes will be made illegal, and that the importation of non-pharmaceutical vaping products will also be prohibited, meaning they will only be available when prescribed by a doctor.
The current excise on tobacco will also increase by five per cent, as part of a plan that the Health Minister said will see more than $3 billion dollars in tax revenue raised across this three-year period.
“These changes will raise an additional $3.3 billion over the coming four years, including $290 million in GST payments to the states and territories,” Mr Butler stated in an address to the National Press Club earlier this week.
Vaping Infographic by Stef Schultz.
Mr Butler was outspoken in his commitment to address issues related to vaping in Australia’s youth, with vapes set to be issued with plainer packaging to make them less attractive to young users.
“Health Ministers are unanimous in their commitment to work together on vaping and tobacco control,” Mr Butler said.
“We will not stand by and allow vaping to create another generation of nicotine addicts.”
A report into the vaping habits of 14-17 year olds in New South Wales was published in September 2022, with 721 youths from around the state surveyed.
Almost a third of respondents stated that they had “at least a few puffs of a vape,” with flavouring and taste rated as the most important characteristic when trying out a vape.
The research also showed that participants found it “easy” to access a vape, with the majority obtaining them from friends. Petrol stations, tobacconists and convenience stores were also listed as popular locations for those who do purchase their own vapes.
The report was led by the NSW Cancer Council, with the compilers of the study warning of the dangers that would face adolescent populations if actions were not made.
NSW Cancer Council Public Health Committee chair Anita Dessaix warned after the report was released that “a crisis in youth e-cigarette use is unfolding in plain view.”
“Unless all governments, federal, state and territory, urgently crack down on the illegal importation and retail and wholesale sale of e-cigarettes and their widespread illegal use in young adults, teenage vaping will go from emergency to crisis,” she said.
In 2022 the Commissioner for Youth and Children in South Australia conducted a survey that found two of three respondents, aged between 13 – 19 years, had tried an e-cigarette. Of those young people, one in four had reported vaping most days.
The data demonstrates an increase in use by young people as in 2014 only 14 per cent of Australian secondary students reported ever using an e-cigarette.
With reporting from Stefanie Schultz, Ashleigh McMurdo, Sienna Wallace, and Erin Morley.