Youth vaping rates higher in Australia than other countries

Posted on May 5, 2024 By Colin

AUSTRALIA'S HARSH DE FACTO PROHIBITION of vapes has failed to reduce youth access. The youth vaping rate in Australia is higher than in most other countries where vaping is regulated as an adult consumer product.

A review of current youth vaping rates in nearly 50 countries is summarised in the following graph (vaping in orange):

See the bottom of the page for study details*.

If Australia switched from the prescription-only regulations to an adult consumer model, it would make legal vapes more readily available for adults and reduce the black market which is supplying young people.

International trends

Youth vaping continues to rise sharply in Australia.

In contrast, youth vaping is declining in the US, Canada and New Zealand and has plateaued in Great Britain.

What about youth smoking?

Current smoking rates across all countries are at historical lows, as shown in the graph (in yellow), ranging from 2-3.4%. Part of this decline is due to diversion of youth to vaping and away from smoking.

Daily smoking has almost disappeared and ranges from 0.3% in Australia (ASSAD) to around 1% in the other countries, except in the Europe/Central Asian region.

Implications for policy

Australia’s de facto prohibition of vaping is driven by a moral panic about youth vaping but has not been effective in restricting youth uptake which continues to rise

The harsh restrictions have also created a range of serious unintended consequences

The benefit of legalising and regulating the sale of vapes as adult consumer products sold from licensed retail outlets has never been clearer. It would reduce youth vaping, give easier access to adult smokers, reduce the black market and generate government revenue.


* Studies included

The most recent and largest official youth surveys in Australia, the US, England, New Zealand and Canada:

A large survey by the World Health Organisation published in April 2024 from 44 countries in Europe, Central Asia and Canada (data collection 2021-2022), n=279,117

Note that direct comparisons between the surveys can’t be made as they use different age ranges, definitions and are taken at different times.


These studies were not included due to small sample sizes:

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