7 reasons why Parliament should oppose the vaping Bill

Posted on March 25, 2024 By Colin

MARK BUTLER HAS INTRODUCED his vaping Bill to Parliament. If I were a member of Parliament, I would oppose the Bill. The current regulatory model has failed and will only get worse with the proposed changes. Here are 7 reasons why a new approach is needed.

1. Youth vaping has skyrocketed

The current illegal markets make it easier, not harder, for teens to access vapes, because there are no restrictions on who can buy them. Underage users have easy access to unlabelled, high-nicotine, unregulated products. One in ten 14-17-year-olds in Australia are currently vaping, and the number is rapidly increasing, creating alarm for parents and teachers. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking but it is not risk-free. There is concern about young people developing nicotine addiction.

2. Control by criminal networks

Australia’s de facto ban has handed control of the vaping market to criminal networks. Ninety percent of adult vapers purchase their products from illegal sources. This has led to an escalating turf war with nearly 60 firebombings of tobacco and vape shops so far, public executions and extortion. Organised crime groups are recruiting vulnerable kids to commit crimes.

Minister Butler says the black market for vapes is” funding the criminal activities of organised crime gangs, drug trafficking, sex trafficking and the like”.

History has shown that intensive enforcement and border control efforts have minimal long-term impact on the availability of drugs in the community if demand is strong and controls are easy to overcome.

For more: Mendelsohn CP, Wodak AM, Martin J, Richter R, Pike R. Briefing on the Prohibition of Vaping and Organised Crime. 6 February 2024

3. Loss of commerce and revenue

Under the current Bill, the legal retail vape and manufacturing industry will be forced to close, leading to loss of employment and bankruptcies.

However, a legal vaping industry will generate substantial economic benefits. These include a taxation windfall, substantial savings in healthcare and compliance costs, reduced GP visits and reduced smoking cessation treatment costs.

It will also stimulate the economy and create manufacturing and export opportunities. A report from the UK below outlines the financial benefits.

For more:
Why vaping reform in Australia makes economic sense. Blog 13Nov2023
CEBR report for UKVIA Economic impact assessment of the vaping industry. September 2022
Independent Economics. Tobacco & vaping in Australia. An updated economic assessment. March 2023

4. It has failed adult smokers and vapers

The current policy makes it much harder for adult smokers to legally access a far less harmful alternative to smoking than to purchase deadly cigarettes. Very few doctors are willing to prescribe nicotine liquid and only a handful of pharmacies are willing to dispense it. However, cigarettes are available from up to 40,000 retail outlets.

This pathway is onerous and costly for patients and has been rejected by over 90% of adult vapers. It undoubtedly means that some smokers will continue smoking instead of switching to the safer alternative.

5. Unregulated products

Australia has quality and safety standards for legal vaping products (TGO 110). However, under the current regulatory model, 90% of products are supplied by the black market and are completely unregulated, exposing users to greater risk.

6. A lost opportunity for public health

Vaping is the most effective and most popular quitting aid for smokers. In countries where vaping is readily accessible, the decline in smoking rates is faster than in countries like Australia where access to vapes is difficult.

In New Zealand, for example, adult smoking declined by an unprecedented 53.1% from 2019-2023 and the decline has been greatest in the younger adult age groups with the highest vaping rate. In Australia, smoking declined by 25% during the same period. At least some of this decline appears to be due to illegal vapes replacing smoking.

Modelling studies have estimated that the overall public health benefits of vaping are considerably greater than the risks, even when modelling the impact of an increase in youth vaping.

For more: Mendelsohn CP, Wodak A, Hall W, Borland R. New Zealand vs Australia. The impact of vaping policies on smoking outcomes. February 2024

7. Public support

The Australian public does not support the current prohibitive approach. A recent Redbridge Survey found that 84% of adults agree/strongly agree that “Nicotine vaping products should only be available through licensed retail outlets to adults”.


The reality is that vaping is here to stay whether we like it or not and it needs to be regulated better.

A better regulatory model is for nicotine vaping products to be sold as adult consumer products from licensed retail outlets with strict age verification, like tobacco and alcohol. This will gradually eliminate the black market, reduce access for youth, provide regulated products for adult smokers and generate tax and other revenue.

Public health policy should be based on a population risk-assessment. A more evidence-based, harm reduction approach which is proportionate to risk will lead to better outcomes for public health for the whole population, at no cost to the public purse.

For more: Mendelsohn CP, Wodak A, Hall W. How should nicotine vaping be regulated in Australia? Drug and Alcohol Review. April 2023


Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) Bill
Explanatory Memorandum

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