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Cancer Council SA is advocating for stronger legislation around e-cigarettes, following exponential increases in e-cigarette use and vaping amongst young people, and growing evidence of the harms of e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes are proven to cause multiple direct health harms including acute lung injury, poisoning, burns, dental cavities, seizures and increased nicotine addiction. And a study from the Australian National University highlights that young people are most at risk.

E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine are legal in South Australia and adults aged 18 and over can buy and use e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine. However, Nicotine Vaping Products are a prescription only medicine in South Australia and it is illegal for retailers (other than pharmacies) to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids that contain nicotine.

Cancer Council SA’s Prevention and Advocacy Manager, Christine Morris says we know that e-cigarettes are often mislabelled, claiming they don’t contain nicotine. This makes law enforcement difficult because retailers are able to avoid getting caught importing or selling illicit e-cigarettes.

“Many people who try e-cigarettes think they’re not going to get addicted to them, but we know that young people who vape are around three times more likely to take up smoking than non-vapers,” Christine says.

“It’s important that the state government enforces e-cigarette legislation banning sales to minors and cracks down on retailers who are illegally selling nicotine e-cigarettes without a valid prescription to help protect the health of South Australians, in particular young people.”

A report from Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC), commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and Quit, shows the vast majority of Australians (83%) overwhelmingly support action to regulate and enforce e-cigarettes to prevent a new generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.

Since Cancer Council SA was formed in 1928, advocacy has played a key role in our mission to invest in cancer research, ensuring people are aware of how to prevent cancer and fund support programs for people diagnosed with cancer. Since 2010, Cancer Council SA’s advocacy focus has been to obtain funding and legislative changes to support and protect South Australians.

For more information on e-cigarettes and the current legislation in South Australia visit

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