Media release

AMA warns over vapes' toxic threat to our health, environment and future

With the Senate soon to consider the government vaping reforms, the AMA is urging all members of parliament to consider the health of the community and the environmental impact of vaping. 

“If you care about the health of our children, and the health of our environment, then the choice is clear on vaping – support the reforms before the parliament,” AMA President Professor Steve Robson said. 

“Anything less is a betrayal of a healthier, safer and cleaner future for our kids.”

Vaping in Australia has tripled since 2019, with a rise from 2.5 per cent to 7 per cent in 2022-2023, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

Professor Robson said vapes are an “environmental triple-threat” with plastic waste in the device body and pod, electronic waste in the form of lithium-ion batteries and a heating element, and hazardous waste due to the heavy metals in the vape and nicotine in the e-juice.

“Vapes are classified as hazardous waste around the country but most vapes are being thrown away in the garbage, or worse – dumped as litter – which is terrible for the environment,” Professor Robson said.

“The plastic waste from the device body and pod never fully decomposes.

“Rather than decomposing, plastic turns into microplastics, or tiny pieces of plastic, which continue to pollute the environment and pollute our food and drinking water.

“The electronic waste or lithium-ion battery waste can corrode and the metals and chemicals – like lithium – leak into the ground, polluting the soil and water long into the future.

“Incorrectly disposed batteries can also cause fires in garbage trucks and landfills, which can harm people, animals and the land.

“We know liquid nicotine is also an acute hazardous waste that is toxic to humans if consumed.”

The AMA said material used to make vapes also comes at a cost to the environment with deforestation and destruction of habitats from mining for materials and carbon emissions from their manufacture and transport.

The National Drug Strategy Household Survey also found the use of e cigarettes is more likely than smoking in areas more socioeconomic advantage.

“Anyone in parliament who is serious about looking after the environment cannot turn a blind eye to the environmental menace that vapes have become,” Professor Robson said.

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