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We must end vape menance

By Dr Sandro Demaio as featured in the Herald Sun

22 Mar 2024
News 3 min read
Three young adults sit facing Flinders Street Station. Thier backs are to camera.

Two weeks ago, I sat down with Lola, an 11-year-old girl. She told me she sees vapes everywhere. In the shops, on social media and among her peers.  

She’s worried because she doesn’t know what to do if someone pressures her to vape.  

It’s kids like Lola who make the legislation by the Federal Government to protect kids from the harms of vaping so important.  

The new proposed legislation means that colourful e-cigarettes with fruity flavours will no longer be for sale alongside chocolate bars and chewy at your local convenience store - often down the road from a school.

These reforms will make it easier for authorities to stop retailers illegally supplying vapes to kids and non-smokers. It will limit access to those with a valid prescription with the personalised support from a GP.  

It’s a crucial step forward in our ongoing fight against big tobacco and big vape.  

It comes as an entire new generation are in the crosshairs of the tobacco industry. An industry intent on repeating their deadly cigarette playbook, that so effectively led to thousands of lives ending early and enormous levels of pain and suffering.

Vapes are highly addictive, dangerous products containing hundreds of toxic chemicals such as those found in weed killer, paint stripper and embalming fluid. These chemicals do not belong in our children’s lungs.

And to make matters worse, we currently have an “open season market” where the average school student can walk into their local shop and walk out with a cheap, flavoured, but inherently harmful vape.

This legislation will position Australia as a global leader in the battle against Big Tobacco and Big Vape. It represents a critical step forward in safeguarding the health and well-being of our Australian kids.  

The difference on the ground will be immense.  

The reforms ensure people can continue to access therapeutic vapes to stop smoking on the advice of their doctor, while putting in place comprehensive measures to safeguard our community.  

This is a watershed moment for all sides of politics to safeguard the next generation from the harms of e-cigarettes and back in this legislation.

No one is saying this is simple and there isn’t one silver bullet to solve this problem. With a unified approach from all sides of politics, we can create genuine change.  


VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio gives evidence in parliamentary inquiry

See Dr Sandro Demaio giving evidence in the parliamentary inquiry into vaping and tobacco controls:

Instagram post by @VictorianParliament captioned: "The parliamentary inquiry into vaping and tobacco controls heard some disturbing evidence from @sandrodemaio CEO of @vichealth about the marketing of vaping products to children.  #vaping #tobacco #tobaccocontrol #health #publichealth #victoria"

Industry tactics

Below is a video of the container that looks like a soft drink can, but is used to hide vapes (as demonstrated by Dr Demaio as evidence for further regulation in Parliament):

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
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VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.