WACSSO Supports Crackdown on Vaping

4 May 2023 Education Issues

The announcement this week of a more robust response to the vaping crisis in Australia is welcomed by WACSSO. On behalf of the parents of government school students in Western Australia, we have been advocating strongly for some time that more action must be taken to protect young people from e-cigarettes, which are clearly marketed to audiences outside of those hoping to quit smoking.

“While we understand that e-cigarettes were introduced to the market as a quit-smoking tool, the reality for the families we speak to is that these products are in our schools, and young people can access them,” says WACSSO President Pania Turner. “These products are attractive to children because of their packaging and flavours and are readily available to school students. Research also suggests that children who try vapes are three times as likely to take up smoking and have an increased risk of developing depression and anxiety. This is a genuine crisis for our young people,” she added.

In collaboration with the Australian Council on Smoking and Health, WACSSO has been pushing for more vigorous enforcement of legislation already in place in Western Australia, including ensuring e-cigarettes are only available to those with a prescription. WACSSO is also concerned about how easy it is for students to purchase vapes in transit to and from school and even on school grounds as well as the broader impacts of this trend.

“The vaping trend in young people is not just affecting their health,” asserts Pania Turner. “Students are feeling peer pressure when entering toilet blocks, knowing that vaping is occurring and anxious about how to say “no”. We have also heard reports of schools closing toilets during non-break times in an attempt to stop vaping from occurring on school grounds, which is having adverse effects. We do not support the closing of toilet blocks and are keen to work with schools to collaboratively develop solutions that address the issue while not punishing the broader student base,” added Pania.

The announcement from the Minister includes several initiatives, such as increasing the tax applied to e-cigarettes, minimising the flavour range, limiting the number and type of vendors, and making changes to packaging. WACSSO will continue to advocate on behalf of Western Australian government school families to ensure that safeguards are put in place and enforced to limit the availability of e-cigarettes for young people.