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E-cigarette ban proposed as WA Cancer Council aims to halve smoking rates by 2030

11 October 2022

By Alicia Bridges, ABC

The WA Cancer Council is leading a push to “revitalise tobacco control” in the state by proposing halving the number of retailers and banning the sale of e-cigarettes, among other measures.
Key points:

The WA Cancer Council chief executive Ashley Reid says licensing fees to sell tobacco should be raised WA Aboriginal Health Council’s Samuel Stubbs says vaping has taken off among his community
Cancer Council Australia’s chief executive Tanya Buchanan says her research shows that most Australian smokers want to quit

The organisation, which is proposing to halve smoking rates in the state by 2030, launched its plan at a two-day symposium of health workers and experts in Perth this week.

WA Cancer Council president Ruth Shean said tobacco control in WA had benefited greatly from a strong commitment by the state government.
“However, there are more than 200,000 West Australians still smoking,” Dr Shean said.

“Our goal is to halve smoking rates in WA by 2030, but it requires all tiers of government to work together to implement an evidence-based, comprehensive approach.”

The WA organisation wants to ban the sale and advertising of e-cigarette devices and components and prohibit vaping in places where cigarette smoking is banned.

Ashley Reid, the chief executive of the WA Cancer Council, said licensing fees to sell tobacco should also be raised to deter retailers from stocking it.

“If it’s used as intended, it kills two-thirds of its users,” Mr Reid told ABC Radio Perth host Nadia Mitsopoulos on Tuesday.

“And yet there’s cigarette shops everywhere. It’s cheap to get a licence.

“You and I can go online and pay 310 bucks to get a retail tobacco licence. It’s harder to get a licence to sell fruit and veg.”

The organisation also wants greater investment in programs and public education.

Mr Reid said banning e-cigarettes also needed to be part of the plan to reduce cigarette smoking.

“Particularly for young people, if you vape or use e-cigs you’re three times more likely to use tobacco,” he said.

“So tobacco is resurgent, and e-cigs are part of the reason.”

Samuel Stubbs, a tackling Indigenous smoking coordinator at the WA Aboriginal Health Council, supported the call to ban e-cigarettes.

He said his organisation was seeing a troubling number of young people using the smoking devices. “It’s huge. It’s just taking off,” Mr Stubbs said.

“That’s probably the biggest thing we’re facing at the moment, with a lot of questions being asked from community groups, schools — how we can come in and help educate the youth about the effects that e- cigarettes have.”

Tanya Buchanan, the chief executive of the Cancer Council Australia, travelled to the Perth conference to discuss her research into the perception that many remaining smokers were “hardcore” and would never be able to stop.

But she said her research showed that most Australian smokers wanted to quit.

“There’s a sense that in tobacco control in Australia, we’ve got down to quite low smoking prevalence rates, and that the job’s done and our remaining smokers can’t or won’t quit,” Ms Buchanan said.

“It isn’t accurate.

“And rates of smokers who are unable or unwilling to quit, the so-called ‘hardcore’, are really quite low. The WA symposium ends on Wednesday.

ABC has contacted WA Health for a response.