Rampant Vaping Highlights Australia's Regulatory Failure
Australia's ban on unprescribed vaping is having unintended effects, especially in youth-dominated settings like music festivals, stated Dr. Carolyn Beaumont on the Global Forum on Nicotine 2023 (GFN) held in Warsaw from June 21 to 24. 2FIRSTS had a brief interview with Dr. Carolyn, an Australian General Practitioner and founder of MedicalNicotine, an online medical prescription service for tobacco harm alternatives, shed light on this issue.
"Festivals are absolutely littered with vapes, and it's primarily because they’re being attended by teenagers and young adults up to 21 years old," said Dr. Beaumont. This demographic is overwhelmingly accessing black-market disposable vapes, a trend that is soaring in Australia. Since these products are officially illegal, festival-goers hold onto them throughout the event and discard them afterward to avoid detection by security.
But why not dispose of these vapes responsibly? According to Dr. Beaumont, the logistics of outdoor festivals play a significant role. "Facilities at these events are limited, with bins and toilets often far away. No one wants to leave their coveted spot in front of their favorite band just to reach a bin," she explains.
The black market for vaping devices appears to be thriving despite the ban, with Dr. Beaumont estimating that it currently accounts for at least 80% of all vapes in use in Australia, and almost 100% among the youth.
The issue of what happens to the discarded vapes post-festival was also addressed. "To my knowledge, these used vapes aren't taken to a recycling facility. Recycling in Australia is generally a disaster; even glass recycling often ends up in general waste, or is exported to other countries," Dr. Beaumont admitted, though she stressed that she wasn’t an expert in Australia's recycling policy.
In a later session, titled "regulation case study -- Australia" or "How not to regulate vaping", she and more scholars further elaborated on the failings of the Australian regulation on vaping, hinting at the need for a more effective approach to tackle the problem.
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