Australia is taking aim at major tobacco companies in a new crackdown on vaping.

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Australia has launched its largest anti-smoking reforms in a decade as it seeks to crack down on tobacco companies that target teenagers. The country will ban single-use disposable vapes, stop the import of non-prescription versions, and limit the amount of nicotine e-cigarettes may contain.

Australia has long been at the forefront of the effort to stamp out smoking and was the first country to implement “plain packaging” laws for cigarettes in 2012, followed by France, the UK, and others. However, it has struggled in recent years to contain the rise in recreational vaping, particularly among teenagers.

Health Minister Mark Butler said that vaping has become the number one behavioural issue in high schools and that tobacco companies have taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging, and added flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts.

People will still be permitted to use vapes with a prescription as a tool to help them quit cigarettes. Australia will also raise taxes on tobacco sales by 5% per year for the next three years. Heavy taxes on tobacco make Australia one of the countries with the most expensive cigarettes, with a pack of 25 costing around Aus$50 (US$33).

Although it is illegal in Australia to purchase nicotine e-cigarettes without a prescription, they are widely available in small convenience stores. Andrew Kohn, a Sydney office worker, stated that there is a need for stricter regulations. E-cigarettes were initially introduced in the early 2000s and were billed as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes.

However, research has shown that they can be highly addictive, and young users often turn to cigarettes to get their nicotine fix. A study by the Australian National University in 2022 found that adolescents who vaped were three times more likely to start smoking. Tanya Buchanan, the Cancer Council chief executive, stated that Australia is fighting a vaping epidemic and has a shrinking window to take control.

SOURCE: Ref-http://sydney AFP

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