SYDNEY: Australia on Tuesday proposed to tighten e-cigarette laws, including introducing new controls on import and packaging to stamp out vaping especially among kids, in the biggest crackdown on the tobacco industry in more than a decade.
The federal government will take steps to ban all disposable vapes and the import of non-prescription vapes, restrict flavours and colours, and reduce allowed nicotine levels, aiming for vapes only to be sold as products to help 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 will say in a speech at the National Press Club, excerpts of which was seen by Reuters.
Under the new rules, vapes will be required to have pharmaceutical-type packaging.
Vaping, widely seen as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes and a product to help 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 Butler will say that vaping has become a recreational product now, mostly sold to teenagers and young people.
“This is a product targeted at our kids, sold alongside lollies and chocolate bars,” Butler will say. “Vaping has become the number one behavioural issue in high schools. And it’s becoming widespread in primary schools.”
The federal budget, due to be out next week, will include A$234 million (US$155 million) to fund the new measures to protect against the harm caused by tobacco and vaping products, according to the excerpts of the speech.
Australia has one of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world after the country in 2012 forced producers to abandon distinct colourful branding and sell their cigarettes in uniformly drab packets with no adornments.
Tobacco firms were quick to switch to e-cigarettes that offer different flavours and created designs targeting a new generation of users.