In Extreme Move, Australia Bans Vaping in Public
The Australian government recently announced a total ban on vaping in public places, along with new restrictions for purchasing, packaging, and marketing legal vapes. The country will also ban disposable devices, like the Juul or Puff Bar, which are most popular with young people, all to stop what Health Minister Mark Butler calls an “epidemic.” Australia already has very restrictive anti-smoking and anti-vaping laws. Still, this new legislation will eliminate flavors and any vapes supposedly aimed at young people with small builds and colorful exteriors. This article will detail more about the new laws and what vaping will look like in Australia after the legislation becomes law.
Table Of Contents
Why is the Government Cracking Down?
The government said it wants to stem the tide of teenagers vaping in the country, which continues to increase despite Australia’s vaping and cigarette industries being tightly controlled and regulated. Disposable vapes such as the Juul and Puff Bars are available everywhere, including gas stations, convenience stores, and other popular retail outlets. Health Minister Mark Butler has said the pervasiveness of nicotine vapes means that children are normalizing it.
As part of a major step to protect public health, the govt of #Australia has banned vaping due to increased usage among teenagers.
Australia has become the 47th country to ban vaping and join countries like India, Singapore, Thailand, Argentina, Japan, Brazil, which have earlier… pic.twitter.com/rN7GyZfgpl
— IANS (@ians_india) May 9, 2023
The new law will remove vapes from these locations and make them available only by
prescription. But it will also ban these devices from being brought into the country, effectively banning them. This approach is similar to how the government clamped down on tobacco cigarette packaging in the late 2010s removing colorful or eye-catching branding from its shelves.
Up to 22% of all Australians between the ages of 18-24 have admitted to vaping, and many anti-vaping/anti-smoking advocates fear that e-cigarette use will reverse years of progress combating smoking. Underage use of e-cigarettes has skyrocketed. Teachers and parents complain they find children and teens vaping everywhere. Under pressure from these groups, the government has taken extreme measures to please a small minority of interests.
The Rationale for the Ban
Even though Australia already has strict laws preventing teens and minors from accessing vapes, the black market continues to thrive. Illegal imports from other countries go undetected by customs agents and end up in several locations where young people can buy them without any controls. The import ban is meant to stop this trade, but many fear that even tighter controls will only grow the black market, not minimize it.
The reasoning for the ban is similar to the arguments made by anti-vaping voices in the US – that vaping presents a mortal public health threat, especially to young people. Many tobacco companies, rather than contesting the law in court as in other cities where vape bans have been enacted, such as San Francisco, are on board with the ban. Big Tobacco also wants fake, counterfeit, illegal vapes off the market, as they threaten its market share and scare people off vaping.
The types of vapes that Big Tobacco companies make, some of which have been approved by the FDA, such as the NJOY and Vuse, are the ones that will remain legal in Australia. Despite its opposition to vapes, the country also endorses their use for people who want to quit smoking, so vapes are not being wholly banned and will remain available to adults with a prescription from their doctor.
How Vapers Are Reacting
Many have pointed out that the country is going down the same path that led it to this moment – tightening laws only to see a black market emerge. They fear the country’s new, even-stricter laws will only create a new black market that will be more difficult to find and eliminate. Professor Ron Borland thinks so. Borland commented on the latest regulations and said he is “gravely concerned that the government’s new policy will do more harm than good.”
1⃣ Ban advertising of vapes? They are already banned
2⃣ Cut off supply at the border? That should work, just like it has for heroin and cocaine
3⃣ A licensing scheme? For whom? Under the…
— Dr Colin Mendelsohn (@ColinMendelsohn) May 1, 2023
Many on social media pointed to the same misguided policy, stating that bans and prohibitions never work. They also point out that smoking rates among young people have declined, not risen since vaping became popular. Yet, many Australians agree with the ban, even those who vape. They say that the disposable vapes targeted by the ban are too addictive, easy to use, and readily available.
The Final Word
Australia already has strict anti-vaping laws, so their tightening is unsurprising for most people. The voices that, in the US, for example, would typically be against the ban – Big Tobacco and vapers – are for the ban, so it does not seem like the law will have any opposition. Its effects will remain to be seen, but the government plans to implement the ban starting in May, and whether it succeeds is something people will be waiting to see.