HIF has welcomed news this week the Federal Government will ban non-prescription vapes in the biggest smoking reforms in a decade.
The measures, which will target packaging, importation, availability and contents, will seek to limit vaping to only that prescribed for legitimate therapeutic use.
Making the announcement on Tuesday, Health Minister Mark Butler said, “Vaping has now become the number one behavioural issues in high schools and it’s becoming widespread in primary schools”.
Research suggests one in six Australians aged 14-17 years old has vaped, and one in four people aged 18-24. Vaping also triples the likelihood someone will take up smoking.
Next week’s Federal budget will include $234 million in funding for tobacco and vaping reforms, including $63 million for an information campaign to discourage smoking and vaping.
Another $30 million will be invested in support programs for those who quit and $140 million to combat smoking and vaping among indigenous Australians.
Last night, HIF CEO Justin James spoke with 9News Perth’s Monika Kos and echoed the sentiments of the private health insurance industry by welcoming Minister Butler’s announcement.
“This is an outstanding announcement and range of decisions from the Government,” Mr James said.
“We are very hopeful that if you minimise access the ability to purchase vapes of any kind, then less people – particularly children – will use them.
“There will always be a black market, but we are confident this is a good first step and outstanding announcement.”
When asked if the restrictions were enough and if he would like to see more being done, Mr James pointed to the Tasmanian Government’s Tasmanian Tobacco Action Plan 2022-2025, which aims to put a formal review in place and end all sales of smoking products in the State, with the aim of eventually ending the commercial sale of cigarettes and tobacco by 2030.
“The Tasmania Government, along with St. Lukes Health, a not-for-profit health fund in Tasmania, set about putting an end to tobacco by 2030. It’s a great conversation for us to have here in WA and across the country.”
“If you look at the cost to the health system – not just private health but public health – in terms of smoking and vapes, you would say a ban may be a good thing.”
A report, Identifying the Social Costs of Tobacco Use in Australia 2015/16, found smoking led to 20,000 preventable deaths a year and accounted for $136.9 billion in social costs.
More than 100 people have been admitted to hospital with vaping-related illnesses in recent years, with the average length of stay being more than six days and the average age being 55 years.
According to Private Healthcare Australia, 122 private health insurance members were admitted to hospital for vaping illnesses since 2020, the youngest just two years old, and suffering from an accidental exposure to vaping.
Watch the full 9 News Perth interview here.