A new report shows growing support for policy action to limit the availability and use of e-cigarettes, with almost nine in ten Australian adults (87%) supporting government action to stop a new generation of Australians becoming addicted to nicotine.
The new data comes just weeks after the TGA received numerous submissions on proposed reforms to the regulation of nicotine vaping products from concerned Australians and public health organisations, including Cancer Councils and Quit, urging immediate action on nicotine vaping products.
In these submissions, Cancer Councils called for border controls on the importation of all vaping products, to support enforcement by South Australian agencies and stop illegal sales.
“Together, Australia’s leading public health experts urged state, territory and federal governments to step up, and work together to stop the illegal importation and sale of e-cigarettes. We have laws in place designed to protect Australians from the many immediate and future health impacts of vaping. But they are being blatantly disregarded,” said Libby Jardine, Chair of Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee.
The Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer report, commissioned by Cancer Council Australia and Quit, also reveals that an increasing number of Australians understand the health harms of e-cigarettes. In 2022, more than eight in ten Australians (81%) agreed that e-cigarettes are highly addictive, a significant increase from 70% in 2021.
This new data also shows that the overwhelming majority (83%) of 18- to 24-year-olds agree that e-cigarettes are ‘highly addictive’.
This age group, who also have the highest rate of e-cigarette use, are just as likely to support stronger policy action (86%) as any other age group.
Cancer Council SA Prevention and Advocacy Manager Christine Morris says evidence shows that young people using e-cigarettes are three times more likely to start smoking cigarettes.
“Young South Australians have been easily accessing illegal vaping products for years. In her 2022 report on vaping and young people, the South Australian Commissioner for Children and Young People reported that 2 in 3 respondents to had tried e-cigarettes. Of these, almost 1 in 4 were regular vapers,” she said.
Ms Morris said that The Generation Vape study in NSW also found that almost 50% of those who purchased e-cigarette products brought them from a friend or other individual, with another 31% openly purchasing them from a petrol station, tobacconist or convenience store.
“This tsunami of illegal products being imported, stored in warehouses, sold in shops and online and supplied to young people without detection, can be stopped. The federal government must immediately take stronger action at the border to stop these products entering the country, whilst eliminating the supply of so-called ‘non-nicotine’ e-cigarettes,” said Ms Jardine.
“Meanwhile, the South Australian government must crackdown on illegal retail sales and warehousing of nicotine e-cigarette products, whilst taking stronger action to stop the supply and advertising of all e-cigarette products,” recommends Ms Morris.
“The longer we wait to enforce and strengthen existing laws, the more people – especially young people – we’ll see experiencing nicotine addiction, poisoning, seizures, burns and lung injury. We can stop this, but only if all Australian governments step up now,” Jardine concludes.
Visit Cancer Council’s website for further information on how all governments can stop a new generation becoming addicted to nicotine.
About the data
The new report from Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer (CBRC) examined perceptions of e-cigarettes and support for policies concerning their availability and use among Australian adults in September 2021 and again in September 2022.
Data for this report were collected through the Social Research Centre’s probability based-panel Life in Australia™.
Notes to editor
We suggest that any content of this nature should direct to a consumer resource for further information or support. Cancer Council Australia and Quit Victoria recommend the inclusion of the following line within any content:
Call Quitline (13 7848) for free advice. Quitline counsellors can answer any questions you may have about e-cigarettes and can help you think of ways to approach the conversation.
If your teenager or young person wants help to quit vaping, they can have a confidential, live chat with a Quitline counsellor at quit.org.au.
For all media enquiries and interview opportunities, please contact:
Natasha Baugh | Communication Manager, Cancer Council SA | 0400 855 244
About Cancer Council SA
Cancer Council SA is South Australia’s leading cancer charity working across every aspect of every cancer. Our purpose is to reduce the rate and impact of cancer in our community through best practice prevention, research and support. Find out more at cancersa.org.au.
Established in 1985, Quit works to reduce the prevalence of smoking and to reduce tobacco and nicotine-related harm in Australia. Quit is a program of Cancer Council Victoria, funded by Cancer Council Victoria, VicHealth, the Victorian Department of Health and the Australian Government’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Branch. Quit Victoria administers the Quitline in Victoria (established 1993), dedicated to supporting people wanting help to give up smoking or vaping. Quit is evidence-informed and works closely with Cancer Council Victoria’s Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer.