Australia said on Tuesday it will ban recreational vaping and tighten other aspects of e-cigarette laws in the biggest crackdown on the tobacco industry in more than a decade to try to stop an alarming rise in teenage vaping.
The government aims to ban all disposable vapes, which often comes in fruity flavours, ban the import of non-prescription vapes and limit nicotine levels, aiming for the sale of vapes to be confined to helping smokers quit.
“Just like they did with smoking, Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Health Minister Mark Butler said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Vaping, widely seen as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes and useful for helping smokers quit, involves heating a liquid that contains nicotine in what is called an e-cigarette and turning it into a vapour that users inhale.
But studies have shown the potential of long-term harm from the addictive e-cigarettes.
Under the new rules, vapes will be sold only in pharmacies and require “pharmaceutical-type” packaging. Disposable vapes popular with young people will also be banned.
Though a prescription is needed to buy nicotine vapes in Australia, lax border enforcement and a thriving illegal market mean they are readily available in convenience stores and other outlets.
Major vape manufacturer Philip Morris welcomed the crackdown on such shops.
“Nicotine vaping products sold in corner stores have always been illegal,” a spokesperson for the company said.
“We have been urging enforcement against these illegal products for several years and hope this will now happen.”
Butler said vaping had become a recreational product in Australia, mostly sold to teenagers and young people, who are three times as likely to take up smoking.