Vicky Sheppard, from New South Wales’ public health unit at South Eastern Sydney Local Health District, said the spot checks were prompted by a rise in vaping among high school students, which she said had increased significantly in 2021. “We are speaking with principals who are very aware and concerned that there are growing numbers of young people vaping.”
“Unfortunately we understand that, while the use does increase with age, it is not limited to the younger students, and we have had reports of children in primary school vaping,” added Sheppard.
Similarly, NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell had announced a range of actions to tackle the problem in schools. “It’s a concern. I mean, clearly we are seeing more vaping among young people; e-cigarettes in schools are a growing concern,” she said. “Schools are smoke-free environments and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vapes, are prohibited on school grounds.”
Mitchell added that the Education Department is in discussions with the NSW Health to find a “whole of government approach” to tackling the problem. “I do think there needs to be a whole of government – and indeed, a whole of community approach – to how we educate our kids about the dangers of vaping, but also about the potential legal impacts as well.” As a result the anti-vape campaign is being launched.
Inaccurate statements made by the campaign
Meanwhile, Mendelsohn listed some of the inaccurate statements made by the NSW campaign, explaining them in detail.
- “Vaping has been linked to serious lung disease”
- “If you vape you are 3 times more likely to take up smoking cigarettes”
- “Regular nicotine use can also worsen stress and anxiety and can make you more susceptible to depressive symptoms”
- “Nicotine is harmful for the young brain”
- “Exposure to nicotine can impact memory, attention and learning”
- Many vapes contain nicotine making them very addictive
- “Vapes are often labelled incorrectly and can contain nicotine”
Australia’s should take a page out of New Zealand’s book
The public health expert has recently referred to New Zealand’s regulations where retailers are able to responsibly sell nicotine products over the counter, while anyone caught violating Australia’s harsh regulations faces steep fines, and in some cases even imprisonment.
Mendelsohn agrees that while not perfect, New Zealand’s regulations are a good start and Australia should really follow suit. “The NZ regulations put Australia to shame. They are based on the evidence rather than politics and ideology. They are a model for good public health policy on vaping and will save lives.”
“Australia’s requirement for nicotine prescriptions is complex, expensive and unnecessary and makes it harder to access vaping products than cigarettes. Is that really what Greg Hunt wants?” he concluded.