Australia is to ban imports of disposable vapes from Jan. 1, the government said yesterday, slamming the devices as recreational products addicting children.
The block on single-use vapes is aimed at reversing a “disturbing” increase in vaping among young people, Australian Minister for Health and Aged Care Mark Butler said.
Australia first announced plans to ban imports in May, but did not give a starting date.
Vaping had been sold to governments as a tool to help long-term smokers quit, Butler said.
“It was not sold as a recreational product, especially not one targeted to our kids, but that is what it has become,” he said.
“The great majority of vapes contain nicotine, and children are becoming addicted,” he said.
About one in seven children aged 14 to 17 uses vapes, the government said in a statement.
It cited “consistent evidence” that young Australians who vape are about three times more likely to take up tobacco smoking.
Legislation is also be introduced next year to outlaw the manufacture, advertising or supply of disposable vapes in Australia, the government said.
The import ban was hailed by the Australian Medical Association.
“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,” association president Steve Robson said.
The government said it was also introducing a scheme to enable doctors and nurses to prescribe vapes “where clinically appropriate” from Jan. 1.
Australia has a long record of fighting smoking.
In 2012, it became the first country to introduce “plain packaging” laws for cigarettes — a policy since copied by France, Britain and others.
For some people who would otherwise never have smoked, vaping is a “dangerous gateway” to tobacco, said Kim Caudwell, senior lecturer in psychology at Australia’s Charles Darwin University.
“So you can understand how at the population level, increased vaping and a resurgence of tobacco use will impact population health in the future,” she said.
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