Nine in 10 Australians support action to stop children vaping

More Australians agree that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, the reports shows.

More Australians agree that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, the reports shows. Photo: AP

Almost nine in 10 Australian adults believe the government should take action to prevent young people from becoming addicted to e-cigarettes, a report says.

The finding out of the Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer comes in light of the state’s Quitline fielding calls from addicted children as young as 12 looking for help to quit vaping.

More than eight in 10 Australians agreed in 2022 that e-cigarettes were highly addictive, up from 70 per cent in 2021, a report by the centre found.

Additionally, 83 per cent of people aged between 18 and 24 agreed e-cigarettes were highly addictive.

“Young people are clearly concerned about these harmful products,” the council’s tobacco issues committee chair Libby Jardine said.

“This age group, who also have the highest rate of e-cigarette use, are just as likely to support stronger policy action (86 per cent) as any other age group.

“It sends a strong signal to government that the majority of people across the country recognise this escalating public health crisis and want government action before it’s too late.”

Young people aged between 18 and 24 who tried e-cigarettes were three times more likely to then take up smoking.

The council, in submissions to the Therapeutic Goods Administration weeks ago, called for border controls on importing vaping products to stop illegal sales.

Many e-cigarettes were falsely labelled as “nicotine-free” in a bid to get them imported into Australia, but some have been found to contain as much nicotine as 50 cigarettes, Ms Jardine said.

Although there were laws in place to protect Australians from the health impacts of vaping, they were being blatantly disregarded, she said.

“Since it’s not practical for law enforcement officers to determine whether an e-cigarette product contains nicotine without laboratory testing, e-cigarettes remain too easy to access,” Ms Jardine said.

“This tsunami of illegal products being imported, stored in warehouses, sold in shops, marketed online and supplied to young people without detection, can be stopped.

“The federal government must take stronger action at the border to stop these products entering the country, whilst eliminating the supply of so-called ‘non-nicotine’ e-cigarettes.

“The longer we wait to enforce and strengthen existing laws, the more people – especially young people – we’ll see experiencing nicotine addiction, poisoning, seizures, burns and lung injury.”

The report also found 84 per cent of Australian adults were against the marketing of e-cigarettes through social and digital media, and 87 per cent supported a ban on vaping in pubs, restaurants, other indoor venues, and on public transport.

The report was commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and Quit, and compared perceptions of e-cigarettes in 2021 and 2022.

Australians have to have a prescription to legally buy nicotine vaping products.

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