Urgent call to reject the Vaping Reforms Bill

Posted on May 21, 2024 By Colin

AUSTRALIA'S DE FACTO PROHIBITION of vaping has created a rampant black market run by criminals, a sharp rise in youth vaping, and a barrier for adult smokers wishing to quit. The proposed Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) Bill 2024 will only make things worse. Following from the recent Senate Inquiry, Alex Wodak and I have written an open letter to federal MPs asking them to reject the Bill for the following reasons (full letter here).

1. Failure to Protect Our Youth

The current prescription-only model for vaping products has inadvertently created a thriving illicit market that has made it easier, not harder, for young people to access vapes. As a result, unregulated and potentially harmful vapes are freely sold to young people. Youth vaping rates are increasing in Australia and are higher than in most Western countries where vapes are sold as adult consumer products with strict age verification.

2. Escalating Black Market and Organised Crime

The prescription model has unintentionally placed the control of the vaping market into the hands of organised crime, leading to nearly 80 firebombings so far, homicides, and other violent crimes linked to turf wars among criminal gangs. Dr. James Martin, a criminologist from Deakin University, highlighted at the recent Senate Hearing that the model has turned vapes into the second-largest illegal drug market in the country. With law enforcement admitting their inability to effectively control this illegal market, it is clear that a new approach is necessary.

3. Public Support for Regulation Over Prohibition

Recent findings from the April 2024 Redbridge survey reveal overwhelming public support for regulating vapes as an adult consumer product, similar to tobacco. With 82% of voters favouring adult-only regulation and 75% recognizing that the current ban has failed to prevent underage access, it is evident that Australians are calling for a change.

4. Ignoring Expert Advice

The Senate Committee’s decision to ignore submissions from global experts on tobacco harm reduction is deeply concerning.

In her submission to the Inquiry, Professor Nancy Rigotti from Harvard Medical School advised

“Australia should consider switching to a risk-proportionate, adult consumer regulatory model, as other Western countries have done”.

Former Director of the World Health Organisation, Professor Tikki Pangestu wrote “Evidence from many countries where vapes are regulated (e.g. New Zealand, USA, UK), have shown significant reductions in youth vaping numbers. Regretfully, such reductions have not been observed in Australia”.

5. Lessons from New Zealand

In contrast to Australia’s restrictive stance, New Zealand’s regulation of vapes in 2020 as adult consumer products has led to an unprecedented decrease in adult smoking. Youth vaping rates have also declined over the last 2 years. This has not only improved public health outcomes but has also curbed the involvement of criminal elements in the vape market.


The proposed Vaping Reform Bill does not address the underlying problems with vaping in Australia. Instead, it risks exacerbating them. Australian policymakers must consider the evidence and the successful models employed by other Western nations. Rejecting this bill and moving towards a regulated model that allows adult smokers to access safer alternatives while protecting youth is not just a legislative choice—it is a moral imperative aimed at improving public health and safety.

Full letter

Mendelsohn CP, Wodak A. Open letter to MPs and Senators: End Australia’s Dangerous Prohibition Vaping Laws. 21 May 2024

Go to Top