Health experts’ summit to target teens’ vaping crisis

The number of teenage vapers is growing daily on the back of targeted marketing.

The number of teenage vapers is growing daily on the back of targeted marketing. Photo: Getty

Public health experts are calling for updated advertising laws to stop the promotion of vaping to young people on social media.

Experts are weighing in on possible solutions to the looming youth vaping crisis ahead of a public consultation deadline on nicotine e-cigarette reforms.

VicHealth chief executive health officer Sandro Demaio said companies were targeting young people by using fruity flavours, childish packaging and shaping the products like hoodie toggles or highlighters.

“Young people are clearly being targeted and targeted very successfully, the government needs to step up and take action,” he told Channel Seven.

He said companies were also using social media to market vaping products to young people.

“Our billboard is now in our pocket, not on the street – we need to make sure that our advertising rules are updated to protect young people.”

Loaded with nicotine

Victoria’s health promotion foundation also wants to see tougher border restrictions on these products, a clampdown on sales in stores and more support services for addicted youths.

Dr Demaio said the industry was using a loophole on nicotine-free e-cigarettes as a “Trojan horse”, with research revealing many products contain nicotine despite the packaging suggesting otherwise.

Health Minister Mark Butler announced the review of Australia’s regulatory framework in late November in the hope of quickly pushing through flavouring and labelling controls on imports.

“Why on earth would you be marketing bubble gum-flavoured vapes with pink unicorns on them except to appeal to children, not even adolescents, young children?” he said in November.

The reforms are targeted at preventing access to young people while supporting adults to access regulated products to quit smoking with a doctor’s permission.

Submissions to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) reforms on nicotine vaping products close on Monday January 16.


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