Government

Alarming rise in vaping among South Australian youth spurs Government crackdown

Vaping among South Australian youth has almost doubled in a year, prompting the government to implement strict measures and a $16 million initiative to combat this health crisis.

Recent research conducted by Preventive Health SA reveals a sharply increased rate of e-cigarette usage among young South Australians, nearly doubling within a year. According to findings from the 2023 Population Health Survey Module System (PHSMS), 15.1% of individuals aged 15 to 29 are now using e-cigarettes, a substantial jump from 8.4% in 2022. This notable rise positions e-cigarette usage ahead of traditional smoking for the first time in this age bracket.

The survey further highlights that e-cigarette use has also escalated among older demographics, with usage among those aged 30-59 rising from 3.1% to 6.7% within the same period. Overall, the survey, which engaged 3,000 participants, was facilitated by the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRF) to assess the progress of the South Australian Tobacco Control Strategy. A pivotal goal of this strategy is to lower the daily smoking prevalence to 6% by 2027.

Minister for Health & Wellbeing Chris Picton expressed significant concerns regarding the climbing rates of vaping among youth. “This new survey result shows the very real danger vaping poses to our kids in South Australia,” said Picton. He underlined the government’s commitment to curtailing this issue through stricter penalties for the illegal sale of vaping products and a $16 million funding injection to enhance enforcement.

The increased funding will facilitate the deployment of additional Consumer and Business Services (CBS) officers, tasked with stringent enforcement of tobacco and vaping product regulations. Preparations include the expansion of enforcement staff from July 1 to monitor and ensure compliance more effectively.

As part of these efforts, the state has also launched a high-impact advertising campaign titled “Every vape is a hit to your health.” This campaign is aimed particularly at individuals aged 15 to 25 who currently use or are at risk of using vaping products.

Minister Picton called for further support from the Senate for the Federal Government’s Bill aimed at intensifying public health protections against vaping. He stressed the urgency of robust legislative actions to safeguard the health and well-being of the youth and the broader community in South Australia.

Echoing the minister’s concerns, Marina Bowshall, Interim Chief Executive of Preventive Health, also highlighted the alarming trend in e-cigarette use. “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,” she remarked. According to Bowshall, despite progress, there is considerable work required to reduce nicotine dependency among the state’s youth.

State initiatives are further complemented by national reforms and various awareness programs aimed at restricting young people’s access to vaping products. “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 ball products in the community,” stated Bowshall.

These findings and initiatives highlight a focused and urgent response from South Australian authorities to address the growing public health challenge posed by vaping, particularly among younger demographics.

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