Despite the legal restrictions surrounding the purchase of nicotine e-cigarettes in Australia, recent research highlights an increasing trend of e-cigarette use among young Australians. This rise in e-cigarette usage raises concerns over the potential negative impacts on both public health and the environment.
A study published in the Australia and New Zealand Journal of Public Health discovered that nearly half of the 1,000 survey respondents between the ages of 15 and 30 reported current (14%) or past (33%) e-cigarette use. This is a significant increase compared to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, which indicated that only 5% of young adults were current users.
Lead author Professor Simone Pettigrew from The George Institute for Global Health emphasized the need for stronger monitoring and enforcement of e-cigarette regulations in Australia to protect young people from vaping-related harm. She also stressed the importance of addressing environments where young individuals see others vaping, such as schools, colleges, and universities, to provide proper education on the associated dangers.
The study’s findings revealed that disposable e-cigarette devices were the most popular choice, with fruit flavors being the preferred option. This trend raises environmental concerns, as nearly two-thirds of e-cigarettes are being thrown away. Additionally, the majority of e-cigarette users obtained their devices from vape and tobacco shops, friends over 18, or online, with only a small percentage (7%) obtaining them via prescription.
Contrary to popular belief, e-cigarettes may not be an effective smoking cessation tool. The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia cautions that there is limited evidence supporting e-cigarettes’ efficacy in helping smokers quit. Instead, dual use of both e-cigarettes and tobacco products is more common among smokers using nicotine e-cigarettes.
This peer-reviewed research underscores the urgent need for Australia to strengthen its e-cigarette regulations to protect young people from potential harm. Adjunct Professor Terry Slevin, CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, warns of an epidemic of young people becoming addicted to nicotine via e-cigarettes. He urges the government to implement tighter controls on vaping product imports, as well as increased monitoring and enforcement to address e-cigarette availability.
Read the full study: ScienceDirect