Australia Cracks Down on Illegal E-cigarette Sales
Since October, it has been illegal for Australian retailers to sell e-cigarette products without a doctor's prescription. Despite this nationwide ban, e-cigarettes are reportedly becoming more common, especially among young people, and these products are still easily available for purchase. In fact, the Western Australian Department of Health has sent letters to over 3000 retailers warning them of recent restrictions.
Dr. Michael Lindsay, spokesperson for the Western Australia Department of Health, has announced that over 16,000 illegal nicotine electronic cigarettes have been seized in the past three years. A national drug survey conducted in 2019 revealed a 23% increase in the use of e-cigarettes.
Similarly, Vicky Sheppeard from the Public Health Department of the Local Health District in southeast Sydney, New South Wales, has stated that they are conducting spot checks due to the rise in high school student e-cigarette usage. "We are talking to principals, who are very aware and concerned that more and more young people are vaping," she said.
Sheppeard added, "Unfortunately, we know that while usage does increase with age, it is not limited to young students. We have received reports of elementary school children using electronic cigarettes.
In fact, Sarah Mitchell, the Minister for Education in New South Wales, recently announced a series of measures to address this issue in schools. "It's a problem. I mean, it's clear that we're seeing more and more e-cigarettes among young people; e-cigarettes on school grounds are becoming more and more concerning," she said. "Schools are smoke-free environments and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, are prohibited on school grounds.
Is Australia's e-cigarette law effective?
Meanwhile, Dr. Alex Wodak of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association stated that current regulations on e-cigarettes have no relation to risk. "We know that in Australia, the vast majority of e-cigarette users are current or even former smokers who are doing so in order to reduce the harms of smoking.
Regulations on e-cigarettes are much stricter and more restrictive compared to regulations on traditional cigarettes. If we want to take action, we should impose even more restrictions on traditional cigarettes than on e-cigarettes.
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