Posted on November 6, 2023 By Colin
HEALTH MINISTER MARK BUTLER is rightly concerned that youth smoking has increased substantially on his watch. However, his claim that youth vaping is the cause warrants closer examination.
Recent statistics are indeed troubling, with the smoking rate among 14-17-year-olds climbing to 6.7% in 2022 and 12.8% in early 2023, according to government figures. Concurrently, the vaping rate in this age group stands at 14.5%. The Minister's view is that vaping has triggered this increase in youth smoking and that more restrictive policies are needed.
However, comparable nations with similar rates of youth vaping have witnessed a substantial decline in youth smoking—down to figures as low as 1.1% in the U.S., 2% in Canada, and 3% in both New Zealand and England
This latest evidence from overseas suggests that a different regulatory approach might yield better outcomes
There are compelling reasons to consider a moratorium on further legislative changes regarding vaping:
In light of the evidence, it is imperative for policymakers to remain adaptable. The admission of a policy's shortcomings is not an indication of failure but of commitment to public health. A tightly regulated adult-only consumer model for vaping, underpinned by stringent controls and age restrictions, might represent a more effective strategy moving forward.
National Party leader David Littleproud's recent admission of his misjudgement regarding the prescription model is commendable. It reflects the kind of responsiveness and humility that should be at the heart of policy-making.
It is time for a policy pivot. By placing public health above political expediency, we can align Australia's vaping policy with both the latest empirical evidence and international best practice.