Australia has banned recreational vaping and tightened other aspects of e-cigarette laws in the biggest crackdown on the tobacco industry in more than a decade to try to stop a rise in teenage vaping.
The government aims to ban all disposable vapes, which often comes in fruity flavours, ban the import of non-prescription vapes and limit nicotine levels, aiming for the sale of vapes to be confined to helping smokers quit.
"Just like they did with smoking, Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts," Health Minister Mark Butler said in a speech at the National Press Club.
Under the new rules, vapes will be sold only in pharmacies and require 'pharmaceutical-type' packaging.
Vaping, widely seen as a safer alternative to smoking cigarettes and useful for helping smokers quit, involves heating a liquid that contains nicotine in what is called an e-cigarette and turning it into a vapour that users inhale.
Butler said vaping had become a recreational product in Australia, mostly sold to teenagers and young people, who are three times as likely to take up smoking.
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"This is a product targeted at our kids, sold alongside lollies and chocolate bars," Butler said. "Vaping has now become the number one behavioural issue in high schools. And it's becoming widespread in primary schools as well."
Doctors backed the vaping crackdown but urged the government to do more to limit the number of young people taking it up.
"Nicotine vaping products are being sold featuring colourful flavours and we have even seen products featuring the same type of imagery as children's breakfast cereal including cartoon characters," said Nicole Higgins, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.
About 22% of Australians aged 18-24 have used an e-cigarette or vaping device at least once, data last year showed.
The federal budget, due out next week, will include A$234 million ($155 million) for measures to protect against the harm caused by tobacco and vaping.
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