Australian Health Ministers Urge Parliament to Pass Vaping Legislation

The health ministers said they will ‘do everything’ they can to ’shut down the supply of vapes’ to young Australians.
Australian Health Ministers Urge Parliament to Pass Vaping Legislation
Signage on a shop selling smoking products in Melbourne, Australia, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Susan Mortimer/The Epoch Times)
Henry Jom

Australia’s health ministers have unanimously called on the federal parliament to pass the proposed vaping legislation, as the Albanese government concedes the crackdown on vaping will “not be easy.”

This comes just weeks after the Albanese government introduced legislation—the Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) Bill 2024, which will prohibit the importation, domestic manufacture, supply, commercial possession, and advertisement of non-therapeutic and disposable vapes.

The legislation is yet to pass through parliament, with the Liberal Party and Australian Greens yet to confirm their position on the proposed bill. One Nation, the Jacqui Lambie Network, and many Independent MPs have not commented on the bill.

So far, the Nationals do not support the bill but instead, favour a regulatory approach involving enforcement within the existing legal framework such as licensing requirements, age restrictions, and advertising regulations.

“We never pretended this is going to be easy,” Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said at a press conference with the nation’s health ministers in Brisbane on April 19.

“And we, as a health ministers group, have a responsibility to do everything we can to shut down the supply of vapes to (our young people).

“Not only is this a public health menace to our youngest Australians and an environmental menace … we also know it is increasingly a lucrative source of revenue for organised criminal gangs,” he said, adding that the health ministers’ would not “stand by and let our kids get hooked on nicotine.”

In their joint statement, the ministers said they are concerned with how the ease of access to readily available e-cigarettes can affect Australian children.

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

“Vapes were sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic good: a product that could help hardened smokers kick the habit.

“Not a recreational product—especially not one targeted at kids.

“If vapes are therapeutic goods then it is entirely appropriate that Australia should regulate them as therapeutic goods, instead of allowing them to be sold alongside chocolate bars in convenience stores, often down the road from schools.”

On Jan. 1, the Australian federal government implemented a ban on the importation of disposable single-use vapes.

Further measures, effective from March 1, included a ban on the personal importation of vapes and non-therapeutic vapes.

Therapeutic vape importers and manufacturers are also required to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of their product’s compliance with relevant standards. Importers were also mandated to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before importing.

Vaping Ban Could Fuel Black Market

While the federal government pushes ahead with its vaping reforms, there are concerns a ban will fuel the black market.

For instance, Libertarian MLC David Limbrick has said the government is unrealistic if they think the ban will work.

Additionally, retired doctor and founding chairman of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, told 3AW radio, that Australia has “just got the regulations wrong.”
Ironically, British American Tobacco’s “Responsible Vaping Australia (RVA)” wants to end the black market through government regulation, while advocating for the “responsible regulation” of nicotine vaping products.

Latest Data Reveals Startling Vaping Trends

The latest national data revealed that one in six high school students, and one in four young Australians aged between 18 and 24 are vaping. Additionally, young people who vape are three times more likely to take up smoking.

While Mr. Butler said Australia, like the rest of the world, had been told vaping would kick the smoking habit, the industry has instead taken advantage of children and young people.

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

The health ministers urged the parliament to keep the nation’s “proud history” of tobacco control.

Meanwhile, the Coalition has expressed concerns about the proposed legislation.

“We are concerned that entrenching the existing failing model will not prevent children from having access to vaping products and will further drive the sale of these products to the black market,” Coalition health spokesperson Anne Ruston said, reported The Australian.

“The government must explain how their measures will prevent children accessing these products, not fuel the black market, adequately fund enforcement measures, both at the border and at point of sale, and measure the success or failure of their policy.”

AMA Vice President, Dr. Danielle McMullen, said the AMA has written to all senators and parties to support the legislation.

“We need to get vapes out of the hands of our children and young people. I have seen firsthand the harms they cause,” she said.

“I’ve had children in my clinic who are up in the middle of the night vaping. They can’t sleep through the night because of the level of nicotine addiction that they have, and that is heartbreaking.”

Henry Jom is a reporter for The Epoch Times, Australia, covering a range of topics, including medicolegal, health, political, and business-related issues. He has a background in the rehabilitation sciences and is currently completing a postgraduate degree in law. Henry can be contacted at [email protected]