Institute calls for total ban on vaping
Sweeping changes to the regulation of vapes across the country are expected this year.
With the normalising of vaping among young people, the federal government is under growing pressure to strengthen border controls on vaping products and even ban them altogether.
John Blakey, a senior clinical research fellow at the Institute for Respiratory Health, supports the latter option.
He is worried about the serious damage Australia’s young people are doing to their lungs, both in the long and medium term.
“For example, they will cause an increase in inflammation in the lung, they cause an increase in the stickiness of bacteria to the airway wall so people are more likely to get infections and infections are more likely to be severe,” he said.
“We’ve done so well reducing the amount of nicotine dependence in Australia.
“And this is one way in which large tobacco companies are trying to recruit new smokers to replace those who have either died or quit.
“And we don’t want that problem to rear its head again and cause those hundreds of thousands of preventable deaths that it could cause if our smoking or nicotine dependence rates go up again.”
Many of the disposable vapes that young people buy don’t provide any information about nicotine content, yet studies have shown most of the products do actually contain the drug.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has made recommendations to the federal government about possible reforms following a public consultation process.
In its submission, the Thoracic Society, for which Dr Blakey is the WA branch president, described vaping as a “public health emergency”, saying that since nicotine vapes arrived on the market as “untested consumer products”, the evidence for direct harm to the lung had steadily accumulated.
At the other end of the scale, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores is pushing for a similar model to New Zealand where nicotine vapes can be sold to adults, much like cigarettes.
Both sides want the end of the current black market.
But Dr Blakey cannot see the value of allowing vapes at all, saying there are more effective ways of getting smokers off cigarettes, for good.
“Studies show most people who switch onto vaping just carry on vaping,” he said.
“It’s not sufficient just to move people from cigarettes onto vaping and leave them on that.”
The federal government is currently working with state health ministers on a suite of new measures around vaping.
Story written by Claire Moodie – ABC News.
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