Almost $30 million has been committed by the Queensland Government to develop a new suite of education and enforcement tools designed to snuff out the state’s ‘vaping crisis’.
The five-year funding package will include $2 million this year and then $5 million annually, to strengthen enforcement of vaping laws and establish a task force with the Commonwealth. An investment of $500,000 will be made this financial year, followed by $1 million annually to expand the Quitline service and provide more support for people who are trying to quit vaping.
Funding from the package will also go towards co-designing and rolling out a dedicated support program for school-aged children in Queensland with nicotine dependency.
Queensland Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services Minister Shannon Fentiman said the package was the next strong step to tackle the state’s “vaping crisis”.
“This $28.4 million package will mean stronger enforcement, better education, and more support for people trying to quit vaping,” she said.
“One vape is equivalent to 400 cigarettes. The fact that they are being targeted at children, with bright colours and sweet flavours, is frankly disgusting.
“The Palaszczuk Government will not stand by and let the next generation become addicted to nicotine and vaping, while exposing our health system to further unnecessary burdens.”
The funding package was announced as part of the Queensland Government’s response to a parliamentary inquiry into reducing vaping, which handed down its report in August.
The government accepted all of the report’s 14 recommendations, including targeting the illegal importation of vapes and providing greater education for young people.
Other measures have included the rollout of the youth-focused ‘There’s Nothing Sweet About Vapes’ campaign and banning vaping in and around schools.
“We’re also increasing our efforts to educate students of its dangers,” Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said.
“This includes investing $5 million to give all Queensland schools access to the innovative alcohol and drug education program the Blurred Minds Academy.
“It’s cutting-edge online learning platforms like this that empower students and teachers with the relevant resources to stand up against vaping and other drugs.”
Stronger laws targeting illicit tobacco and vaping products also passed in May and a series of coordinated raids have been carried out. Since the laws passed, at least 170,000 illegal vapes with a street value of $5.1 million have been seized.
“There is always more work to do, but we know we are on the right path to a healthier Queensland,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said.
People requiring support to quit vaping or smoking can call Quitline on 13 78 48.