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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 3 August 2021) . . Page.. 2217 ..

Health Association and the Cancer Council of Australia have all published position papers raising their concern with e-cigarettes and vaping. The World Health Organisation calls for caution surrounding their use, urges governments to apply precautionary principles and notes the need for further studies and research into various aspects and impacts.

The ACT’s legislation and regulation around the use of e-cigarettes and vaping are among some of the most progressive in the country, and well ahead of national regulation and legislation. In the ACT, under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927, it is an offence to supply vaping products to people under the age of 18; it is an offence to be reckless about whether the person to whom the vaping product is sold is under 18, including failing to check for identification; it is an offence to purchase a vaping product for use by someone under 18; and it is an offence to display advertisements for e-cigarettes and vaping products.

Under other ACT legislation, the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008, it is an offence to commercially sell or supply liquid nicotine for use in e-cigarettes. These measures, particularly those around advertising, packaging and marketing of e-cigarettes and vaping products, are intended to prevent non-smokers, including young people and children, from the uptake of smoking. Nationally, the advertising of vaping products, including packaging, is not regulated.

In 2020 the ACT government made a submission to the federal government’s Senate Select Committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction, calling for effective internet safeguards to prevent children from purchasing vaping products; national regulations or nationally recognised approaches to flavoured nicotine vaping products; the regulation of e-cigarette packaging and product names to ensure their use is not marketed to appeal to young children; the display of health warnings or advisories consistent with evidence, as validated by the NHMRC; and a requirement for childproof packaging for nicotine liquid and nicotine salts. These reforms have not yet occurred or come into effect.

One aspect of these recommendations is asserting the importance of childproof packaging for nicotine substances. Nicotine is a poison. It is a highly toxic substance. I refer the Assembly to the Victorian coroner’s report of July 2019. The report outlines the devastating circumstances of the death of an 18-month-old baby, referred to as Baby J, as a result of the accidental ingestion of liquid nicotine that was being mixed for e-cigarette use. The coroner stressed that not enough had been done to educate the community about the risks associated with e-cigarettes and the toxicity of liquid nicotine.

Despite the ACT legislation effectively making it illegal for people under 18 to vape, this is something that is occurring in our community. I originally received a couple of emails from concerned parents that their children had obtained e-cigarettes at school. I investigated this further by posting widely on Canberra’s Facebook noticeboards, encouraging parents to contact me if they felt that this was an issue among teenagers in the ACT. I received many emails from concerned parents, who reported widespread vaping amongst our teenagers, our children, in the ACT.

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