The Federal Government has imposed new restrictions surrounding the use of recreational vaping devices, banning the sale of single-use vapes.
Speaking at the National Press Club, federal health minister Mark Butler announced tough new regulations, banning the importation of vapes without a prescription.
Minister Butler says vapes will now only be sold at pharmacies with plain packing, nicotine levels will be reduced and many flavours, like bubble gum, will no longer be available.
The restrictions come after many parents raised concerns about children vaping.
Not-for-profit charity group Alcohol and Drug Foundation reports that people who vape are three times more likely to take up cigarette smoking.
Geraldine Mellet, the co chief executive officer at the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, welcomes the tougher regulations.
“ACOSH has been in there for the long haul to reduce smoking over the last 50 years, and we’ve kicked some pretty big goals with the whole health sector, until vaping exploded on the scene,” she says.
Ms Mellet says ACOSH has been advocating against vapes for a while and she is glad their hard work is starting to pay off.
Ms Mellet says the new regulations still allow for smokers to access vapes to help them quit, while also making vapes harder for children to access.
Listen to more from Geraldine Mellet.
Ms Mellet believes the changes to regulations, such as plain packing and removing flavours, will slowly start to attach a stigma to vaping.
“There are a whole suite of moves … making sure vaping is seen much the same as smoking.”
However, local vape juice manufacturer Rhys Callender is against the changes.
Mr Callender is the owner and director of Clouded Visions, a WA-based company which manufactures and sells vapes and liquids.
Mr Callender believes vaping works as a smoking cessation product.
He says he used vaping to quit cigarettes and believes Australia should follow Britain’s approach to vaping.
At the start April, the British government announced a new initiative in which cigarettes could be swapped for vapes.
Clouded Visions manufactures vape juice without nicotine. However, under the new regulations, Mr Callender is uncertain about his business’ future.
“When the TGA did their initial consultation, they stated this is only in relation to nicotine vape products, but the terminology is so interchangeable in politicians … most of them don’t even acknowledge there’s a legitimate industry at all,” he says.
“They just think we’re all cowboys.”
Mr Callender says he’s skeptical about how receptive pharmacies will be to the new regulations.
“If they’re basically trying to say that any vaping product has to be in a pharmacy, they’re basically going to have a vape shop in their pharmacy. None of [the pharmacy’s] are going to want a bar of it,” he says.
“All they needed to do was legalise these things the same way that cigarettes are legal. There’s no logical justification as to why you can go and buy cigarettes but you can’t buy one of these.”
Mr Callender believes better licensing and regulations will help stamp out the black market and stop vapes from getting into the hands of children.
“Just have it over 18s, you have to have a license to sell them, if you get caught selling to kids they take your license, give you a massive fine. That [system is] all good,” he says.
The National Tobacco Strategy report 2023-2030 does not outline when the new regulations will come into effect.