Australian teenagers urge government to help them break vaping addiction

Australian teenagers urge government to help them break vaping addiction

Submissions to the TGA include comments from 13-19-year-olds who want restrictions in place to help them with nicotine addiction

Teenagers have urged the Australian government to help them break their nicotine addiction, submissions to a major consultation on vaping reforms reveal.

A submission to drug regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration from South Australia’s commissioner for children and young people, Helen Connolly, included comments from some of the 950 teenagers aged 13-to-19 surveyed by her office about vaping.

A 16-year-old girl described how: “All we have to do is go to a cheap servo … and there we can buy a vape without being asked for identification of age”.

“There really needs to be restrictions put in place to make them not so easy to access and then the addiction would be forced to stop,” the teenager wrote.

“I know many people, me included, would be extremely angry at first when there [sic] in the first few days without nicotine but if adults want children to stop, I truly believe it’s the only way.”

A 15-year-old girl wrote: “Stop treating kids with vaping addiction like they’re awful people because you would help an adult with one but not a child.”

A 17-year-old girl wrote: “Some of us aren’t doing it to look cool, some of us are genuinely struggling with addictions or are using them as coping mechanisms like a stress reliever.”

Connolly wrote that, based on the voices of the young people surveyed, nicotine and non-nicotine vaping products should be banned from importation unless bound for pharmacies. She also wrote they should be tested, labelled properly and certified; come in plain packaging; and that all flavours – except tobacco and colouring agents – should be prohibited.

“Such a response must avoid punishing children and young people, while ensuring there is information and support available for all children, with particular support for those who may be dependent or addicted to nicotine vapes and may struggle with withdrawals.”

The almost 4,000 submissions to the vaping reform inquiry were published by the TGA on Thursday. A submission from the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia said: “The direct comments from students read as a cri-de-coeur.”

A 17-year-old student quoted in the submission said: “I’ve tried to quit and I couldn’t think straight. I had the worst ever headaches of my life and I found it to be much too difficult to quit.”

The health minister, Mark Butler, told Guardian Australia that “the status quo on vaping is completely unacceptable”.

While he did not respond to questions about when the TGA’s full report of recommendations to the government would be made public and when any reforms would be implemented, he did say that, “We know this problem has exploded over the last several years and we know the urgency to act is this year.”

Source: The Guardian