AMA President Professor Steve Robson said the phased reforms — which will see imports of disposable single use vapes banned from 1 January next year — will help prevent a new generation of people becoming addicted to nicotine.
“The AMA has advocated for years for the introduction of stronger, strictly-enforced regulation of vapes, and we applaud the measures announced by Health Minister Mark Butler today,” Professor Robson said.
“Younger people and children are increasingly becoming addicted to vaping because vapes are easily accessible and many that are marketed as nicotine free, in fact contain nicotine. Only recently we saw reports that border authorities had seized 35 tonnes of illegal vapes in October with testing revealing 92 per cent contained nicotine and other harmful chemicals such as ethylene glycol and formaldehyde.
“There’s been an alarming increase in the number of people, including children, vaping over recent years, with colourful packaging and sweet flavours openly targeting children and young people who have never smoked a tobacco cigarette.”
Professor Robson said there was now a clear trend of people who started out vaping and moved on to cigarettes with the number of young smokers growing for the first time in decades.
“Australia has been a world leader in reducing smoking rates and the subsequent health harms, so the government’s decisive action to stop vaping in its tracks and prevent further harm is very welcome,” he said.
“While the evidence for vaping as a quit smoking tool is limited, the AMA also welcomes the introduction of the new Special Access Scheme pathway to prescribe vapes, which will facilitate improved access for Australians when there is a clinically-appropriate need.”
Alongside the ban on the importation of non-therapeutic vapes and the cessation of the personal importation scheme, the AMA also welcomed a new requirement which will be implemented from March next year for therapeutic vape importers and manufacturers to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration of their product’s compliance with relevant standards along with the requirement for importers to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before the products are imported.
Professor Robson said it was encouraging to see state and territory health ministers agree on decisive action, including a national enforcement framework, to tackle the scourge of vaping and urged MPs and Senators to get behind the reforms as they were rolled out, included changes to legislation regarding tobacco.
“All MPs and Senators must get behind these vaping and tobacco reforms to protect the health of all Australians. To do otherwise would be shameful.”