Rate of young South Australians vaping rises at alarming pace

SA Gov

E-cigarette use and vaping among young people has almost doubled in a year, according to new research from Preventive Health SA.

The alarming spike comes as the Malinauskas Labor Government tackles the health crisis of vaping and smoking through tough new laws, strategies, and initiatives to drive down the prevalence of smoking in South Australia, as well as supporting new national reforms.

The 2023 Population Health Survey Module System (PHSMS) released on Friday shows the number of 15 to 29-year-olds currently using e-cigarettes increased to 15.1 per cent in 2023, from 8.4 per cent in 2022.

Among 15 to 29-year-olds, this is the first time there are more e-cigarette users than there are smokers.

Worryingly, for those surveyed aged 15 years and over, 6.7 percent have reported current use of e-cigarettes, compared to 3.6 percent in 2022. E-cigarette use is also rising among 30-59-year-olds, up from 3.1 per cent in 2022 to 6.7 per cent in 2023.

Vaping increases the risk of serious health outcomes including addiction to nicotine, serious harm to the lungs, and a risk of poisoning especially in children.

The statewide survey of 3,000 people was analysed by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) to inform progress against the South Australian Tobacco Control Strategy.

The key target of the Strategy is to reduce daily smoking prevalence in the South Australia population to six per cent by 2027. Early signs indicate that South Australia is on track towards achieving this target. However, the rapid uptake of vaping products containing nicotine poses a new and significant public health risk, as young people who vape are three times more likely to take up tobacco smoking.

The progress in driving down smoking rates will be boosted by significant new investment, including a $16 million funding boost for more enforcement officers to crack down on the sale of illegal tobacco and vaping products.

Licensing and enforcement will be driven by officers in Consumer and Business Services (CBS) from July 1.

Staffing will be expanded within CBS to get more inspectors out enforcing compliance with licensing and sale of tobacco and vaping products regulations in South Australia.

The State Government has also implemented a hard-hitting advertising campaign – “Every vape is a hit to your health” – that is targeted at 15 to 25-year-olds who currently vape and those who might be at risk of future uptake.

A summary of the survey can be found on the Preventive Health website.

As put by Chris Picton

This new survey result shows the very real danger vaping poses to our kids in South Australia.

It is why we are launching a crackdown on the illegal sale of vaping products and imposing tougher penalties on those caught selling them.

We are also making a substantial investment in advertising campaigns that educate South Australians on the devastating health impacts of vaping.

I am encouraging the Senate to support the Federal Government Bill to crack down on this incredibly important public health issue to ensure the health and wellbeing of our South Australian children and young people.

Vaping poses a serious health risk to our community and must be stamped out.

As put by Preventive Health Interim Chief Executive Marina Bowshall

The rise of vaping among young people in just one year is extremely concerning and we know this is probably the tip of the iceberg.

We have a long way to go and there is more to do to help turn the tide for our state’s young people, so they can kick the deadly effects of nicotine as soon as possible.

National reforms, as well as a range of programs and awareness campaigns being implemented in South Australia will help restrict the availability of vaping products to young people.

This strong, comprehensive action aims to reverse the disturbing growth in vaping among young people. We make no apology for taking decisive action to halt the flood of these harmful products in the community.

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