Urgent action needed to stop young people using e-cigarettes

October 2022

Cancer Council Australia

More and more young Australians are using e-cigarettes. These are harmful to health and can cause nicotine addiction, poisoning, seizures, burns and lung injury. The long-term harms are not yet known. Non-smokers who use e-cigarettes are much more likely to go on to smoke tobacco.

It is legal to sell non-nicotine e-cigarettes to adults in most parts of Australia. However, nicotine e-cigarettes should only be sold to people with a prescription. This law is in place to help protect young people and non-smokers. So why are nicotine e-cigarettes so easy for people to buy?

E-cigarettes may not include ‘nicotine’ on the label even though they do in fact contain nicotine. Since it’s impossible for law enforcement officers to determine whether an e-cigarette product contains nicotine without laboratory testing, large numbers of e-cigarettes containing nicotine can be imported, stored in warehouses, sold in shops and supplied to young people without detection.

To close this loophole, the supply of so-called ‘non-nicotine’ e-cigarettes must end. Imports of all e-cigarettes should be banned unless they are bound for smokers with a prescription or pharmacy wholesalers. Non-nicotine e-cigarettes are not harmless products and contain hundreds of harmful chemicals.

This is a rapidly accelerating public health crisis. Cancer Council and other public health groups call on governments to take immediate action—before it is too late.

The Australian government must:

• take stronger action at the Australian border to stop the flood of nicotine e-cigarette products entering the country • ban the importation of all e-cigarette products unless bound for smokers with a prescription or pharmacy wholesalers

• ban the supply of all e-cigarette products at the national level (regardless of whether they contain nicotine), except by pharmacies to smokers with a prescription

State and territory governments must:

• crackdown on illegal retail sales and warehousing of nicotine e-cigarette products • ban the supply of all e-cigarette products, except by pharmacies to smokers with a prescription (to support a national ban)

All governments must:

• ban all forms of advertising, promotion and sponsorship of e-cigarette products.

Developed by Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee

Endorsed by



Sign up to receive our monthly newsletter for the latest news and updates on our work in the ASEAN region and beyond.