Mark Butler, health ministers plead for parliament to pass tough vaping laws

The country’s health ministers have declared they will not “stand by and let our kids get hooked on nicotine” in a united plea to the federal parliament to urgently pass vaping laws.

In a shared communique on Friday, the nine ministers have called on the federal parliament to pass the Albanese government’s “world-leading legislation” to ban the sale, supply, manufacture and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler last month introduced the legislation, which would crackdown on single-use and non-therapeutic vapes, while preserving access to therapeutic vapes for legitimate patients.

In their joint statement on Friday, the ministers lamented that vapes had been sold to governments and communities as a “therapeutic good” that would help smokers kick the habit, but instead had recruited “a new generation to nicotine addiction”.

An estimated one in six high school students, and one in four Australians aged between 18 and 24, are vaping.

The health ministers urged the parliament to keep with Australia’s “proud” tradition of tight tobacco control.

“Tobacco control started in Australia 50 years ago with advertising, years later our understanding of the devastating health impacts continues to evolve. Australian health ministers are not going to stand by and let history repeat itself,” they said.

“All Health Ministers have today urged the Australian parliament to pass the Albanese Government legislation, to ensure consistency and co-ordinated action to protect the future generations of Australians.”

The ministers said vapes should be used therapeutically if that was what a person’s medical team had recommended, but that should not mean they were sold “alongside chocolate bars in convenience stores”.

“Australian Health Ministers encourage consumers to speak with their doctor or other qualified health professional about the options for quitting vapes or the management of nicotine dependence,” they said.