Australian stores to be banned from selling vapes

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Australia’s tobacco tax will be increased by billions of dollars over the next four years as the government cracks down on smoking and vaping.

The sale of vapes in retail stores will be banned as the government seeks to prevent the next generation from becoming addicted to nicotine, health minister Mark Butler said on Tuesday.

The tobacco tax will rise by 5% a year starting from September, Mr Butler said – a total increase of 3.3 billion Australian dollars (£1.76bn) over four years.

This follows an 234-million dollar (£187m) boost for tougher regulation of e-cigarettes, including new controls on their import and packagin

To tackle the growing black market, the government will increase the product standards for vapes, including by restricting flavours and colours.

It will require pharmaceutical-like packaging, a reduction in the maximum allowed nicotine concentrations and volumes and a ban on single-use vapes.

Mr Butler said children aged under four had been reported to Victoria state’s poisons hotline after they used a vape to give an idea of the scale of the public health issue.

“This is a product targeted at our kids,” Mr Butler said. “Vaping has become the number one behavioural issue in high schools, and it’s becoming widespread in primary schools. This must end.”

Mr Butler said the hard-won gains in public health relating to the reduction in smoking could be undone by the “new threat”.

Steve Robson, president of the Australian Medical Association, the nation’s leading doctors group, backed the move. “We know the new young generation of Australians are being hooked on vapes and this is a great initiative,” he said.

Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO Erin Lalor said most people vaping in Australia were using unregulated products, with no idea what was in them.

“Some people who vape, including young people, may be unknowingly consuming nicotine and have formed a dependence,” she said.

A public health campaign will be launched to discourage Australians from taking up vaping and encourage those who already have to quit.

Support programmes helping Australians quit vaping will get more funding, and education among health practitioners about smoking and nicotine cessation will be strengthened.

The government will commit more money to a programme helping Indigenous people stop smoking, which will be expanded to include vaping.

Australia has one of the lowest smoking rates among the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries, with 11.2% of Australians aged 15 and over smoking in 2019, according to government statistics.

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