Will the July 1 vaping ban push people back to cigarettes?

24 June 2020

Nicotine e-cigarettes and refills will be banned in Australia from July 1 under pain of a $220,000 fine. In the United Kingdom, they're advertised and sold in hospital foyers. What's going on?

On Friday, the Australian Government announced that it was extending its already strict vaping ban — not only would selling nicotine vaping products in the country be illegal (this has been the case for years), but so would be importing them for personal use. The change would come into effect in just 12 days — on July 1.

The announcement has the support of every major public health body, from the Cancer Council to the Heart Foundation to the Royal Australian College of GPs. They say that e-cigarettes risk undoing decades of work in reducing the appeal of cigarettes to children; they worry it's a 'gateway' to conventional smoking. Meanwhile, the UK, Canada and New Zealand are going in the opposite direction; encouraging smokers to switch to vaping as harm reduction. The number of smokers in England is falling. In Australia, it's going up.

Dr Gary Chan from UQ's Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research and Dr Coral Gartner, an epidemiologist who heads UQ's Nicotine & Tobacco Regulatory Science Research Group spoke with Triple J Hack about how the vaping ban will drive at least some former smokers back to cigarettes.

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