Demand for new youth anti-vaping program surges as parliament considers world leading vaping reforms

MARK BUTLER MP
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE

JASON CLARE MP
MINISTER FOR EDUCATION

Unprecedented concerns around rising vaping rates in schools show the need for immediate action, a recent trial has shown.

A research trial of a program aiming to reduce the number of students vaping and smoking, developed and delivered by the University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre, proved hugely popular and was taken up by 250 high schools across Australia.

The popularity of the ‘OurFutures’ Vaping program is indicative of the huge concerns of teachers and school communities about the rising popularity and dangers of vaping.

Teachers and school communities’ concerns are matched by Albanese Government action, with world leading legislation to protect children, young people and all Australians from the harms of vaping currently before the parliament.

Data shows 1 in 6 high school students have vaped recently. Vapes have become the number one behavioural issue in many schools and studies have shown that 9 out of 10 vape shops are within walking distance of schools.

The Albanese Government’s legislation regulates vaping as a therapeutic good, by banning the importation, manufacture, supply, and commercial possession of disposable single use and non-therapeutic vapes.

Should the legislation pass later this year, anyone who is in genuine need will be able to purchase a regulated vape from a pharmacist, with a prescription.

The Albanese Government is implementing several other measures to improve health outcomes, including: more help for people to quit smoking and vaping through the development and expansion of national quit support initiatives, increased awareness and education via new public health campaigns, and newly developed clinical guidelines from primary health clinicians.

The Matilda Centre ‘OurFutures’ Vaping program is the first rigorously developed online vaping prevention program currently under evaluation. More than 8 in 10 students and teachers have rated the program highly, with more than 8 in 10 students saying it would help them in future.

For free confidential support call the Quitline on 13 78 48. You can also head to Quit Now for the latest resources.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“Vapes were sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic good: a product that could help hardened smokers – usually people in their 40s or 50s – to quit smoking and kick the habit, not one targeted at children but that is what has happened.

“If vapes are therapeutic goods then it is entirely appropriate that Australia should regulate them as therapeutic goods, instead of allowing them to be sold alongside candy bars in convenience stores, often down the road from schools.

“The Parliament now has a once-in-a-generation opportunity and responsibility to act to safeguard the health of young Australians for generations to come. The best time to have done this was five years ago, the second-best time is now.

“We urge all Parliamentarians to stand with parents, teachers, schools, doctors and public health experts who are calling for urgent action to stop Big Tobacco from cynically preying on young Australians.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Education, Jason Clare:

“Vaping is a major public health issue and major issue in our schools.

“Principals and teachers will tell you that vapes are causing massive behaviour problems in the classroom.

“Nine out of 10 vapes stores are within walking distance of our schools. This is an industry that is clearly targeting our kids.

“That’s why banning the sale of these things from corner stores is so important.

“It’s also why resources like the OurFutures vaping program are important – equipping teachers with the tools they need to help to educate young people about the dangers of vaping.”

Quotes attributable to Associate Professor Emily Stockings, University of Sydney’s Matilda Centre:

“We are seeing young people addicted to nicotine at rates we’ve not seen for decades. Preventing nicotine dependence before it develops is the best approach, because it impacts brain development and is incredibly difficult to quit.”

“Programs like Our Futures are not only backed by rigorously tested evidence, but are developed in partnership with young people, parents, teachers, and educators, and give young people a say in their own health decisions.

“Research from Professor Newton, Dr Gardner and myself at the Matilda Centre has shown that engaging Australia’s youth by co-designing reliable, evidence-based resources that they trust breaks through misinformation and gives our youth the tools for a healthier future. 

“It is encouraging that Governments on all levels are serious about combatting vaping harms in young people and we look forward to furthering research into school-based and social-media based interventions in two new MRFF and NHMRC-funded trials.”

WEDNESDAY, 10 APRIL 2024