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Poll reveals Australian parents in the dark about e-cigarette use

Posted 18 Feb, 2020

Quit Victoria commends the Royal Children’s Hospital Child Health Poll for polling the views of Australian parents on e-cigarettes and notes three findings of particular relevance to protecting our children from the predatory marketing tactics of the tobacco and related industries.

The first is that parents are likely to be underestimating e-cigarette use by children. The Child Health Poll found that 7 per cent of parents believe their children have used an e-cigarette. However, 13 per cent of children reported e-cigarette use in the Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drug Survey. Taken together, these findings suggest many parents are unaware their children are experimenting with or using e-cigarettes.

Secondly, there is strong community support for improved enhancement of laws banning sales of tobacco products to children. Australian parents report that 48 per cent of children using e-cigarettes obtain them from another child and 16 per cent of children using e-cigarettes buy them from retail stores themselves. These findings are absolutely consistent with data from the Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drug Survey results, which show that 48 per cent of children who currently smoke obtained cigarettes from friends and that 18 per cent bought cigarettes themselves from retail stores, despite many decades of bans on sales to children.

Quit Victoria Director, Dr Sarah White said tougher enforcement of laws was needed to prevent Australian children from addiction.

“The vast majority of parents (87 per cent) support improved enforcement of laws that ban e-cigarette sales to children. I’d say we need to improve enforcement for the sale of both e-cigarettes and cigarettes to children, because there are clearly some retailers who have no qualms of putting profit over kids,” she said.

Finally, two in three parents are unaware e-cigarettes available for retail sale have not been tested or approved by the Government. 

“Our community expectations are that products available for sale in Australia are safe to use. However, there are no consumer safety standards for e-cigarettes or the liquids used in them. Quit Victoria believes e-cigarettes should not be available for sale until they have been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” Dr White said.
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