Vape prescription sale regulations need to be tightly guarded

Smoking rates are at their lowest levels in decades but the rapid uptake of vaping, particularly among young people, is alarming and threatens to scuttle that long winning streak.

NSW Health data published last year shows 11 per cent of people aged 16 to 24 reported being vape users – double the number reported in 2020.

Public health experts are now worried that the rising vaping rates among young people aged under 25 threaten decades of hard-won progress in reducing smoking rates. Having lost lucrative ground, tobacco companies are now eyeing the untapped Australian vape market.

In a bid to get the public on side in its campaign to legalise the vape retail market, it is up to its old marketing tricks. These tactics are not unfamiliar and should not catch policymakers off guard.

Our story today shows British American Tobacco is presenting itself as a responsible corporate citizen in launching a Facebook campaign against vapes in schools, while marketing bright-coloured, fun-flavoured vapes that are attractive to young people. Masking itself with the Responsible Vaping Australia website and Facebook page, its post – which calls for help to keep vapes out of the hands of children – provides a link to a campaign to legalise vaping in Australia.

This tactic cleverly evades Facebook and Instagram owner Meta’s rules against advertising tobacco and vape products.

University of Sydney public health expert Associate Professor Becky Freeman said it was an example of how the company is speaking “out of both sides of their mouth”.

We’ve seen this movie before. Internal documents publicly released during litigation against big tobacco previously exposed how BAT executives discussed using Formula 1 racing, popular live bands, DJs, toys and video games to target the youth market, while at the same time lobbying for a minimum age for tobacco sales to be raised to 18.

Today, BAT’s Vuse vaping product is associated with Formula 1 through its partnership with McLaren Racing. BAT has also partnered with the Tomorrowland dance music festival in Belgium and promoted International Women’s Day and fashion events.

As Becky Freeman says, it is deja vu. It’s the same marketing approach the company has used for decades – this time with a vape in the place of a cigarette.

While members of the public are too busy to trawl the “responsible vaping” sites to discover they are run by the big tobacco company, we expect government regulators will not be easily fooled by the transparent commercial interest behind its lobbying agenda.

University of Sydney public health professor Simon Chapman, is confident the government is unlikely to go along with the industry’s proposals to deregulate the sale of vapes. He says big tobacco’s bid to convince us all that it has suddenly “put on their white” hats when it comes to marketing its products to children, should be taken with a big grain of salt.

The fact young people’s smoking rates are at the lowest levels ever recorded must be causing tobacco companies a lot of anxiety. This is why they are so keen to get vapes available through as many retailers as possible.

Approval of over-the-counter sale of e-cigarettes without a prescription to consumers would, according to the Cancer Council, lead to huge numbers of young people facing a three-fold risk of smoking uptake on current trends.

Its research published in February found that almost nine in 10 Australian adults want policy action to stop a new generation of Australians from becoming addicted to nicotine.

The Cancer Council is calling on the federal government to strengthen and enforce the legal prescription sale of vapes by reinforcing border controls on the importation of all vaping products to tackle the illicit vaping crisis.

It warns that the longer we wait to enforce and strengthen existing laws, the more we’ll see Australia flooded with these addictive, harmful products. agrees we need all levels of government to act now. The tobacco lobby’s pressure to relax vape regulations should be resisted to ensure Australia maintains its low smoking rates in the public interest and for the nation’s health.

( Information from was used in this report. Also if you have any problem of this article or if you need to remove this articles, please email here and we will delete this immediately. [email protected] )

Share to...