Australia is set to implement a ban on the recreational use of vaping products in a significant move for public health

Australia is set to implement a significant crackdown on vaping due to what experts call an “epidemic”. As part of this crackdown, recreational vaping will be banned, and minimum quality standards will be established. Additionally, the sale of vapes will be limited to pharmacies.

Nicotine vapes already require a prescription in Australia, but the industry is poorly regulated, and a thriving black market exists.

Health Minister Mark Butler claims that these products are leading to a new generation of nicotine addicts in the country. Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, heat a liquid, usually containing nicotine, creating a vapour that users inhale.

While they are often perceived as a tool to help smokers quit, in Australia, vapes have become increasingly popular as a recreational product, particularly among young people living in cities.

“Just like they did with smoking… ‘Big Tobacco’ has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts,” Mr Butler said in a speech announcing reforms on Tuesday.

“We have been duped.”

Although vapes are deemed to be safer than traditional cigarettes as they do not have tobacco, there are still concerns about the chemicals they contain, and the potential long-term effects of using them are unclear. The UK government is currently providing free vapes to some smokers in its “swap to stop” scheme.

However, according to health experts, vapes are not entirely without risks. The Australian government believes they pose a threat to public health, especially among young people who may not have previously smoked. Studies suggest that one in six Australians between the ages of 14 and 17 has vaped, while one in four individuals aged 18-24 have done so.

“Only 1 in 70 people my age has vaped,” said Mr Butler, who is 52.

According to the Health Minister, the availability of vapes in retail stores alongside candy and chocolate bars, and the marketing tactics used to promote them, indicate a deliberate targeting of young people.

The minister also noted that vaping has become the primary behavioral issue in high schools, leading some to install vape detectors in bathrooms.

The federal government plans to collaborate with state and territory governments on potential penalties for possessing e-cigarettes without a prescription.