Australia to Crack Down on E-Cigs and Ban Single-Use Vapes

(Bloomberg) -- Australia will restrict the sale and use of e-cigarettes and ban all single-use vapes in what is likely the government’s most significant smoking-related reform in a decade to avert a health crisis.

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Health Minister Mark Butler will announce plans to crack down on e-cigarettes in a speech to the National Press Club on Tuesday where he will pledge A$234 million ($155 million) to boost enforcement and fund education campaigns to “stamp out” vaping.

The government will stop the import of non-prescription e-cigarettes, end the sale of the devices in most retail settings, introduce pharmaceutical-style plain packaging and prohibit all single-use disposable vapes under the new restrictions that Butler will announce. The move comes a decade since Australia ordered in 2012 for all cigarettes to be sold in logo-free, bland packaging to curb smoking.

Vaping was originally sold to governments and communities around the world as a “therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit,” Butler will say in excerpts of his remarks that were released ahead of his speech.

“It was not sold as a recreational product — especially not one for our kids. But that is what it has become: the biggest loophole in Australian history,” Butler will say.

People have been calling poisons hotlines in Australia to report children under the age of four getting sick from using a vape, while one in six teenagers aged between 14 to 17 has used an e-cigarette.

While the use of e-cigarettes is largely unrestricted in many countries, including the UK and Canada, many other parts of the world have entirely banned the devices or imposed tough regulations.

Since 2009, Brazil has maintained a ban on the sale, import and advertising of e-cigarettes, while the world’s most-populous country India announced a similar ban in September 2019.

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