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‘This must end’: Radical plan to stop children vaping

Australia will launch a radical crackdown on vaping which has emerged as the “number one” behavioural issue in high schools.

The plan will include a major public health campaign to prevent the next generation of “nicotine addicts” and to stamp out youth vaping.

Health Minister Mark Butler will on Tuesday announce a $234 million boost in this month’s budget for the biggest smoking reforms in a decade.

The changes will bring tougher regulation of e-cigarettes, including new controls on their importation and packaging.

The government will work with the states and territories to shut down the sale of vapes in retail and convenience stores, while making it easier to get a prescription for therapeutic use.

To tackle the growing black market, the government will increase the product standards for vapes, including by restricting flavours and colours.

They will require pharmaceutical-like packaging, a reduction in the allowed nicotine concentrations and volumes, and ban single use vapes.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Mr Butler will detail the scale of the public health issue, with children under the age of four having been reported to Victoria’s poisons hotline after they used a vape.

“This is a product targeted at our kids, sold alongside lollies and chocolate bars,” he will say.

“Vaping has become the number one behavioural issue in high schools, and it’s becoming widespread in primary schools.

“This must end.”

Mr Butler says the hard won gains in public health relating to the reduction in smoking, could be undone by a “new threat”.

“Vaping was sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit,” he will say.

“It was not sold as a recreational product, especially not one for our kids. But that is what it has become: The biggest loophole in Australian history.”

Mr Butler will say “Big Tobacco” has wrapped another addictive product in shiny packaging and added flavours to create a “new generation of nicotine addicts”.

A $63 million public health campaign will be launched to discourage Australians from taking up vaping, and will encourage them to quit.

Support programs helping Australians quit the habit will be bolstered by a $30 million investment, with education in smoking and nicotine cessation among health practitioners to be strengthened.

The government will commit a further $140 million for a program helping Indigenous people stop smoking, which will be expanded to include vaping.

Shocking research found four out of five teenagers surveyed, aged between 15 to 17, found it easy or somewhat easy to buy vapes in retail stores.

-AAP

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