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Health and education leaders unite to push for vaping reform


Health and education leaders unite to push for vaping reform

In a rare show of unity, representatives from Australia’s leading health and education bodies have come together to urge Parliament to pass crucial vaping reform legislation.

The joint press conference, featuring the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Australian Education Union (AEU), Australian Council of State School Organisations (ACSSO), Catholic School Parents Australia (CSPA), and the Australian Parents Council, underscored the urgent need to protect the nation’s youth from the burgeoning public health crisis of vaping.

Steve Robson, President of the AMA, highlighted the alarming rise in nicotine addiction among children due to vaping.

“Vaping is quite possibly one of the greatest public health challenges that we’re facing at the moment. It has enormous negative consequences for children,” Robson said.

He emphasised that after significant strides in reducing smoking rates, the proliferation of vaping threatens to undo these achievements. Robson called on parliamentarians to prioritise children’s health over business interests and criticized the National Party for considering vaping as a revenue source.

Correna Haythorpe, President of the AEU, echoed these concerns, saying the issue of vaping is causing increased disruption in our schools, not only from its illicit use by students but also due to the level of disengagement that students who vape are exhibiting.

“For teachers who are experiencing escalating workloads and are dealing with very complex needs of students, the issue of vaping needs to be resolved by governments,” Haythorpe said.

“Our teachers need to be backed by governments and by education departments because this is a societal issue that has filtered into the classroom. Our teachers need a systemic response, and that’s why we are urging all parliamentarians to support the government’s proposed reforms on vaping.”

Damien Ellwood, President of ACSSO, presented data from a recent survey showing overwhelming parental concern about vaping.

“Ninety-seven per cent of respondents indicated concern about the health risks of vaping, and 57 per cent of parents and carers indicated very high levels of concern for the teens in their care,” Ellwood revealed.

He called for substantial funding for research, education campaigns, and stricter restrictions on vape availability to address this public health crisis.

Jennifer Branch-Allen, President of the Australian Parents Council, lamented the recurrence of issues previously seen with smoking.

“Vaping is causing harm to our kids. We don’t know the outcomes. Our children are being used as guinea pigs,” she warned. Branch-Allen called on senators to seize this small window of opportunity to legislate against vaping and protect future generations.

Sarah Rose, spokesperson for CSPA, underscored the collective responsibility to ensure safe learning environments, saying “schools should be places where parents can feel confident that their children are secure and their wellbeing is prioritised”.

“By implementing these reforms, we’re taking a vital step towards ensuring that and safeguarding the health and wellbeing of our students,” she said.

The speakers were unanimous in their support for the proposed reforms, emphasising that vaping should be restricted to a medical context as a temporary aid to help people quit smoking. They condemned the influence of tobacco industry funding on the debate and called for an education campaign to accompany the legislative measures.

Robson stressed the urgency of passing the vaping reform bill to prevent a public health crisis.

“We have an opportunity to deal with this and protect our children. It’s critically important that we act now,” he said.

“The collective stance of these health and education leaders sends a strong message to Parliament: the wellbeing of Australia’s youth must come first.”

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