Doctor and activist

Belated Federal Govt. Action on Vaping

13 April 2022
The Federal government has made statements to try to lessen vaping especially in children. Health Minister, Greg Hunt has made statements and asked for State help on the issue. This is only days before the Federal government goes into ‘Caretaker’ mode before the election, so can have no real effect. Hunt himself is retiring at the election. Perhaps he is doing his best, but he has been undermined by a determined ‘pro-vaping’ group within the Liberal government, which includes Trent Zimmerman, MP for North Sydney. (One might wonder whether the vaping groups are funding the major parties, as they have significant tobacco company ownership. Presumably this will come out eventually- too late to be relevant)
Vaping has been increasing due to the same sort of marketing that launched tobacco, making it exciting, sexy and rebellious. With the internet, social marketing and ‘social influencers able to be paid and target certain groups, this can happen much more under the radar than in former times. As my son commented recently, ‘People believe what their algorithm feeds them’. Older folk who are not fed the ads do not notice what is happening. But now even student correspondents are complaining that there is so much vaping that the school toilets are polluted.
As one Professor of Medicine commented on Radio National Life matters today, ‘We should not be comparing vaping to smoking, we should be comparing it to breathing fresh air’. Exactly.
There were two articles in the SMH this week, ‘Federal bid to stop children vaping’ by Dana Daniel on 7/4/22 and on 9/4/22 (below).
We can only hope that the vaping members lose their seats and that the new Labor government takes a much more active stance. It is late to act on this, but better late than never.

Greg Hunt urges state governments to stop vapes being sold to children

By Dana Daniel April 9 2022

Health Minister Greg Hunt has written to his state counterparts urging them to halt the illicit sale of e-cigarettes to children, but state health ministers want the federal government to stop them at the border.
Community concern is growing about e-cigarettes in schools as increasing numbers of teenagers take up vaping – despite state laws making it illegal to sell the devices to under-18s, regardless of whether they contain nicotine.
“I ask that you take active steps to enforce these laws by taking action against retailers contravening your laws, for example by selling NVPs to school children,” Mr Hunt wrote in the letter, seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
Under Commonwealth law, it has been illegal to import liquid nicotine, unless prescribed by a GP as a smoking cessation aid, for the past six months.
But e-cigarettes and vape juices containing nicotine remain widely available through a black market both online and in retail stores and schools are grappling with an escalating problem.
Mr Hunt’s letter dated March 18 linked to a report in The Age about a five-year-old boy who was hospitalised with breathing difficulties after vaping with his brother and a seven-year-old classmate at school.
In that case, the vape was not alleged to have been sold to a child by a retailer, with the child’s father telling the ABC it belonged to another student’s mother.
Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley hit back on Friday, telling the Age and Herald: “We need more action from the Commonwealth to strengthen e-cigarette regulation at a national level – and we encourage the Morrison Government to get on with it.”
A spokeswoman for NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard, who is recovering from COVID-19, said a national approach was needed to tackle vaping, which the state had formally requested “on multiple occasions, including during feedback on the new National Tobacco Strategy”.
“The federal government previously tried to get a uniform approach on e-cigarettes, but was met with opposition from supporters of vaping,” the spokeswoman said.
Mr Hazzard had already asked NSW Health to “step up its compliance action” before receiving Mr Hunt’s letter.
“Hopefully, it will be possible for federal compliance to be stepped up to minimise the importation of illegal vaping products.”
The federal health department is finalising the National Tobacco Strategy, a draft of which recommends new restrictions on “the marketing, availability and use of all e-cigarette components in Australia, regardless of their nicotine content”.
Australian Border Force Commissioner Michael Outram told a Senate estimates hearing in February that the ABF had not committed any additional resourcing to the detection and seizure of nicotine vaping products since the ban on importation without a prescription began last October.

Arthur Chesterfield-Evans

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