Claims vape laws could lose Aus millions

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said a vape ban was unrealistic. Picture: Supplied.

Labor has rebuffed calls to reverse its hard ban on the recreational use of vapes after industry figures projected a million-dollar tax windfall if Australia pivoted towards regulation.

Parliament is expected to vote on laws to crack down on vaping in June, but the government’s third tranche of anti-vaping legislation has been opposed by Nationals, who want to tax rather than ban vaping products without a prescription.

Industry modelling has projected that if legalised and subject to an excise, vapes could bring states like Victoria and NSW an extra $600m in GST over the next four years.

Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce said controlling vaping products like cigarettes and alcohol vapes would limit revenue entering the black market, but said he wouldn’t support the regulation of other illicit substances such as cannabis.

“People are making money out of it [vapes] – the mafia predominantly, and if you want to fix that you have to bring it into regulated form,” he told Sunrise.

“The issue we have with vapes is … I don’t vape, they’re not good for you, and they will kill you, but so do cigarettes and they’re legal.”

Authorities have stopped millions of dollars worth of vapes coming into the country. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Monique Harmer

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the government would not be open to reversing its plans and said a national ban was needed to protect younger generations from the negative health effects of e-cigarettes.

“The only people who want more sales of vapes in Australia are the big tobacco companies and their first generation of customers is dying from smoking-related ill health,” she said.

“Teachers say this is the worst discipline problem they have in schools. Kids are sleeping with vapes under their pillows so they can wake up in the middle of the night and vape.”

“We might make a bit of money from tax revenue but we would have spent billions in the health system cleaning up the mess of the vaping addiction that has hold of young people today.”

Health Minister Mark Butler has he did not ‘hold out much hope’ of the Nationals backing Labor’s anti-vaping laws. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

The third tranche of Labor’s anti-vaping rules would outlaw domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes.

Previous legislation, which rolled out in January, banned the importation of vapes and increased enforcement activity.

Both the Coalition and the Greens have yet to take a hard stance on the legislation but Greens leader Adam Bandt has said he favoured a harm-minimisation model rather than prohibition.

The Senate will vote on the bill either in the current sitting period by the end of next week, or in the next sitting period in June.