The ACT government needs to boost education programs targeted at young people taking up vaping in an effort to reduce the potentially harmful practice, a Labor backbencher says.
Dr Marisa Paterson will on Tuesday move a motion in the Legislative Assembly calling on the territory government to expand efforts to prevent people taking up e-cigarettes and lobby the federal government for tougher regulation.
The member for Murrumbidgee said much of the regulation would sit with the Commonwealth, but the ACT had a role to advocate for tough rules and to set the agenda on harm prevention.
"I think we absolutely have a role in advocating to the federal government that we need stricter regulation and laws around this, and also within our own jurisdiction - making sure that we're keeping up with what is happening on the ground and how these products are being sold, and how kids are getting access to them, and also how they're advertised," Dr Paterson said.
Dr Paterson said constituents had brought to her attention the issue of younger people taking up e-cigarettes, and she was concerned the products could lead to nicotine addiction.
"The [National Health and Medical Research Council] is focusing on research in this space, and the research is saying there's heavy metals in [e-cigarettes]. You're breathing in chemical steam basically and kids, of course, being kids, they find whatever they're not allowed to do and they'll do it," she said.
A review of research compiled by academics at the Australian National University in September found people that had never smoked who took up e-cigarettes were three times more likely to transition to regular tobacco smoking.
"All studies found evidence of an increased risk, with wide variation in the magnitude of this risk," the report found.
Dr Paterson said her motion would mean commentary about vaping products would come from government and health authorities, not those with a commercial interest in the products' promotion.
The Sunday Canberra Times reported earlier this year that local schools had seen an increased number of students vaping.
One 18-year-old said for adolescents it was "easier to get a vape than to get a pack of smokes".
"There are a lot of people who resell them to young people on social media. They probably source it from cheap overseas suppliers," the apprentice said.
St Mary Mackillop College suspended five students for a day in late April after they were caught vaping on school grounds.
MacKillop College principal Michael Lee said at the time that the group suspension came after numerous other individual cases across various year groups were recorded in the past six months.
"This issue presented itself once or twice last term, but there has been an increase in the management of this at the school," Mr Lee said.
"We're mindful that this [vaping] is unhelpful to the students' health. It isn't legal.
"We're concerned about where they're accessing this. It's countercultural here, and we want parental engagement."
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