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Australia prepares to ban recreational vaping

STORY: Australia is cracking down on e-cigarettes, as it tries to stop an alarming rise in teenage vaping.

The government announced plans on Tuesday to ban recreational vaping, as well as the import of non-prescription vapes and limit nicotine levels.

The new measures are intended to ensure that vapes are only sold as aids to help smokers quit.

They were announced by Health Minister Mark Butler, who described vaping as the biggest behavioral issue in high schools, and widespread in primary schools too.

"Big Tobacco has taken another addictive product, wrapped it in shiny packaging, added sweet flavours to create a new generation of nicotine addicts. Young vapers are three times as likely to take up smoking, so it is no wonder that under-25’s are the only cohort in our population that are seeing smoking rates actually increase.”

Butler said the federal budget, due next Tuesday (May 9), will allocate 155 million U.S. dollars to protect against harm caused by tobacco and vaping products.

On the streets of Sydney, people were divided about the new restrictions:

“Well yeah I think it’s a good decision to ban it. I have a lot of friends who vape and I don’t think it’s good for their health so, and I’ve seen a lot of people having lung issues because of vaping too much. So I think it’s a good decision.”

“Just generally I don’t like the idea of government getting too involved in anything that anyone is doing. But I guess if it’s a case of kids under whatever....”

Australia has some of the toughest anti-smoking laws in the world.

In 2012, it became the first country to force cigarette producers to abandon distinct, colorful branding and sell their products in uniformly drab packets.

The move pushed many tobacco firms to switch to less-regulated e-cigarettes and target a new generation of users.

About 22% of Australians aged 18-24 have used an e-cigarette or vaping device at least once, data last year showed.