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Gen Vape Survey highlights urgent need to address young people’s easy access to addictive e-cigarettes

Results from the ground-breaking Being Gen Vape behavioural study have underscored the need for urgent action to further restrict access to addictive and harmful e-cigarettes.

The comprehensive study conducted by The Behaviour Change Collaborative aimed to better understand teen vaping behaviour. Through interviews with 92 Western Australian teenagers in years 7 to 12, the research explored young people’s habits, beliefs, and attitudes towards e-cigarettes.

Among the study’s slew of findings, the major issue of concern was the reported ease with which the teenagers could access e-cigarettes.

The research found the affordability and ease-of-access were significant enablers when it came to teenagers taking up this addictive habit. One teenager reported getting their hands on a vape was “as easy as finding a pen on the floor”.

The young people reported they readily and easily purchase vapes from various sources. Older teenagers often buy direct from retailers, such as delis, convenience stores, and barber shops, claiming they are rarely asked for age ID. The retailers seem to know the rules but intentionally flout them and avoid detection by instructing students not to come in school uniform.

Younger teenagers reported that older siblings and friends often purchase vapes for them, and some opportunistically use parents or older family members’ e-cigarette devices.

The ubiquity of these devices at schools, parties, and in social groups, as well as their addictive delivery of nicotine, makes it hard for young people to kick the habit.

Perhaps the saddest part of the study was the finding that most teenagers who vape regret starting, and said they wished it had been more difficult for them to find vapes, and surprisingly, they wished it was more expensive. One of the key results from the survey is that children’s access to these products must be severely restricted.

“This important and disturbing research involving WA children and teenagers confirms they have easy access to addictive e-cigarettes”, said Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive of the Australian Council on Smoking and Health.

“These dangerous and addictive products are readily available to children and this must be stopped.

While Western Australia has implemented a new enforcement program through its

Health Department in recent weeks, and New South Wales have significantly increased compliance around vape laws and seizure of e-cigarettes, all states must do more to prioritise action on e-cigarettes.

“State and Territory health ministers need to prioritise the effective enforcement of existing laws to stop the illegal retail sale of these products.

“The Federal Health Minister, Mark Butler, needs to urgently introduce a Prohibited Imports Regulation to stop these products coming through our borders.

“Such a regulation would empower Border Force officers to seize all e-cigarettes and related products unless they are accompanied by a Dr’s prescription under current TGA requirements.

“The Federal government should also prohibit the promotion of these addictive products on all social media platforms,” Mr Swanson said.

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For media enquiries please contact Maurice Swanson, Chief Executive, Australian Council of Smoking and Health on 0401 090 915

The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is an independent, non-government, not for profit coalition established in 1971, and represents a further 35 prominent health and community organisations with a shared concern about smoking and its harmful consequences.

ACOSH has been a leading advocate for all the regulatory and legislative changes to reduce the impact of smoking on the Australian community, and is supported by the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation – Healthway.