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Over 500,000 vapers in Australia now, according to Government study

Posted on July 22, 2020


VAPING is now a mainstream quitting strategy for Australian smokers, with the number of vapers more than doubling in the last 3 years. In 2019, 2.5% of the population (aged 14+) or *520,000 people were ‘current’ vapers (vaped at least once in the last year).

This finding was released last week in the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey and shows that "the vaping genie is well and truly out of the bottle".

In the previous survey in 2016, 1.2% of the population vaped and there were only 240,000 vapers.

This is an extraordinary rise given that vaping is discouraged by federal and state health departments and most health and medical organisations and is essentially illegal in Australia

Vaping rates are still lower than most other western countries but are quickly catching up.

Vaping categories

Smokers
The survey found that 54% of vapers are still smoking - "dual use" (280,000). Many vapers smoke in the early stages as they adjust to vaping and stop smoking when they are ready. Dual use causes less harm than smoking, but the greatest benefits are from quitting smoking completely.

Ex-smokers
3.2% of ex-smokers (200,000) vape, in many cases to avoid relapsing to smoking. Vaping is not risk-free but it much safer than smoking.

Never-smokers
0.7% of people who have never smoked also vape (43,000). 70% of these never-smokers vape infrequently (monthly or less) and this is of little public health importance. Only 30% vape daily.

Most never-smokers who try vaping (85.4%) do it out of curiosity and 93% of these do not continue long-term.

Vaping is not for non-smokers, but some of these never-smoking vapers would have smoked instead if vaping was not available.

Ex-smoker - ex-vaper
Many people quit smoking by vaping and then quit vaping as well, but are not captured in the Survey.

Age of vapers

Vaping is rare in 14-17 year olds and most common in the 18-29 year age group. It gradually decreases with age.

Teen vaping

1.8% of 14-17 year olds had vaped at least once in the last year and most of these were smokers (17.5% of smokers also vaped). This may be a good thing. If young smokers are smoking fewer cigarettes and vaping more it is likely to be beneficial to their health.

Vaping is rare in Australian youth who have never smoked. Only 1.3% of non-smokers are currently vaping (ie have vaped at least once in the last year)

The frequency of vaping was not reported, but based on overseas experience, most use by never-smokers is likely to be infrequent. Even in the US where fears of a youth epidemic began, 70% of never-smoking youth who vaped did so on only 1-5 days in the last month.

Vaping is diverting young people from smoking and some of the never-smoking vapers would have otherwise been smoking if vaping was not available.

Reasons for vaping

Many people try vaping out of curiosity. However, amongst smokers, 44% vaped to quit, 32% to cut down, 23% to avoid relapse and 27% to reduce harm from smoking.

The most common reason for vaping in teens is curiosity (73%). Teens should not smoke or vape, but it is better if they rebel by vaping than smoking.

* Australian population (14+y) in June 2019 was 20,910,111 [ABS]

References

National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2020
Australian Bureau of Statistics. Estimated resident population by single year of age, Australia. June 2019

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, colin@athra.org.au


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6 Replies to “Over 500,000 vapers in Australia now, according to Government study”

Dwayne

Well all I can say if they ban vape they have to ban smokes as the government know what smokes do to people but continue to sell them anyway so them saying they have ban vapeing because they don't know what vapeing dose to people is just bull shit and if they ban nicotine they have to ban nicotine patchs as well and smoking what good for smokers it's good to vape and how dare they tell us what we can and can do they will not ban smoker because of the money they would lose thank you

mandy

i tried several times to quit smoking and didn’t succeed. i chose to vape and i do not have that smokers cough anymore since!
it has helped me off the real cigs

Pumbaa

There is no money to be made from a healthier population, big business can’t charge exorbitant prices for medications, governments can’t charge exorbitant taxes to cover costs of medications maybe the should look at the food industry and leave vaper’s alone and legislate so a safe and legitimate industry can grow instead of driving it underground

Heather S

I tried absolutely everything, patches, pills, hypnotherapy, patches.. even vaping. Eventually it was the vaping that broke a 40 year habit.
This might not be 100% good for you, but we know it is better than smoking. After one week off the cigs & on the vape, my constant cough was gone.
3 years so far since I had tobacco. Changing rules now makes me very nervous.

Wendy Whittaker

Let us buy juice/oil in Australia – why do we have to spend our money overseas?

Zachary Lawton

The continued fear mongering and inability of our health minister to provide any realistic semblance of a reason for his underhanded, backdoor nicotine ban is a testament to why we have a parliament of dinosaurs to argue over things and not one, allowed to pass laws on a whim misinformed whim. The fact that this ban has simply been postponed instead of put through the parliament is a disgusting attack on the rights of hundreds of thousands of Australians. The liberal party would be wise to reassess this whole scenario as 400000+ angry vapers is a considerable amount of the population to go after with no realistic plan or justification. The law as it stands is already a draconian attempt to stop Australians from vaping, but to ban all import of nicotine, is going to result in an illegal black market filling the void, of which the government will have to take responsibility for; injuries from illicit rip-offs included.

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