15 July, 2020
The latest Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) National Drug Strategy Household Survey data reveals that our national smoking targets have not been met for yet another year, and that vaping is playing a crucial role in helping Australians quit smoking and is displacing traditional cigarette use amongst people who would otherwise smoke.

Russell Zimmerman, Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association (ARVIA) spokesperson, said the latest smoking rate failures showed the urgent need for Australia to follow every other civilised and developed nation in the world and to legalise and regulate safer smoke free products such as nicotine vaping devices and electronic cigarettes.

“The latest AIHW report is a sad indictment on efforts to achieve the National Smoking Target of 10% for almost a decade. These results further demonstrate the need for Australian health regulators and political decision-makers to consider all options available, such as e-cigarettes and nicotine vaping, consistent with the international evidence that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and saves lives.

The survey data shows that since the 2016 Survey there has been a 1.2% reduction in smoking, and a 1.3% increase in vaping, further demonstrating the failure of governments to reduce smoking and the success of Australian vape businesses in assisting lifelong smokers to break a fatal smoking habit.

“The latest data also comprehensively demolishes the claim that vaping leads to smoking. This data indicates that there is no so called ‘gateway effect’. In fact it is clear that vaping prevents people from taking up smoking in the first place.

“Furthermore, the AIHW data indicating that young people are taking up vaping either in addition to or instead of smoking shows that authorities are also failing to enforce even the current restrictive rules.

“There is simply no justification to further punish adult vapers, smokers and law abiding vape retailers by further restricting access to vaping products for the failure of law enforcement agencies to prevent underaged and illegal sales.

“In fact, law abiding Australian vape retailers are becoming increasingly concerned that the lack of effective regulations, including significantly harsher penalties, is a major reason why there has been an increase in youth vaping in Australia.

“While vaping products are helping millions of smokers to quit smoking globally, Australian smokers and vapers who have quit smoking remain at the mercy of an ideological and unscientific vendetta by the Australian public health industry who all rely on $17 billion in Big Tobacco taxes for their funding.

“Sadly, Australian health regulators and so-called public health groups are content to see lethal traditional cigarettes which kill 21,000 Australians every year remain widely available for sale as a consumer good, but will stop at nothing to stop scientifically proven safer vaping products from ever being a quitting option for Australian smokers,” Mr Zimmerman said.


Facts about smoking in Australia

  • Around 11 per cent of Australians smoke daily
  • The national smoking rate target has not been met for nearly a decade
  • Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the nation, responsible for 1 in 8 avoidable deaths
  • 21,000 Australians die every year as a result of smoking
  • Smoking costs the Australian community $136.7 billion in direct and indirect economic, social and health costs annually
  • The Federal Government collects in excess of $17 billion in tobacco tax
  • People from lower socio-economic backgrounds, people living in rural and remote Australia, people with mental health problems smoke more and are impacted more by smoking than the general community
  • The illicit tobacco trade is growing bigger every year and represent more than 20 per cent of all tobacco consumption, fuelling organised criminal activity and depriving governments of billions in forgone tax revenue

Facts about vaping 

  • Around 50 million people now vape around the world
  • More than 300,000 Australians vape
  • Australia remains the only Western Democracy and only one of two OECD nations to ban vaping
  • Vaping is 95% safer than combustible tobacco according to Public Health England
  • Vaping is the most effective and popular population level quit smoking tool available and is twice as effective as tradition nicotine replacement therapies (NRT)
  • Vaping is an-off ramp away from smoking
  • In countries where vaping is legal, teen smoking rates have fallen dramatically
  • In countries where vaping is legal and is displacing smoking, there has been no significant youth take-up, or any instances of a youth vaping epidemic recorded
  • An outbreak vaping related lung injuries and deaths that occurred in the US in 2019 was found by the US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to be the result of illicit THC liquids, not properly manufactured nicotine. This demonstrates the need for a strong and robust regulatory framework for smoke free products.

Medical organisations that endorse vaping:

  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners
  • The Royal Australasian College of Physicians
  • The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists
  • The New Zealand Health Promotion Agency
  • The New Zealand Medical Association
  • Hāpai Te Haora (Maori Public Health)
  • The New Zealand College of General Practitioners
  • Heart Foundation New Zealand
  • Cancer Society New Zealand
  • Quitline NZ
  • Pharmacy Guild of New Zealand
  • Public Health England
  • The British National Health Service
  • Royal College of General Practitioners
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Royal College of Psychiatrists
  • The Royal College of Midwives
  • Royal College of Nursing
  • Cancer Research UK
  • The British Medical Association
  • The British Lung Foundation
  • The British Heart Foundation
  • The US National Academies of Sciences Engineering Medicine (NASEM)


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