New laws target illicit tobacco and vapes sold to kids
People using vapes will not get a pass in no-smoking areas and there will be a crackdown on tobacco "chop shops" under laws proposed in Queensland.
There will also be an expansion of smoke-free areas, a new licensing scheme and greater restrictions on cigarette sales in pubs and clubs under legislation to be introduced to state parliament this week.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said the bill will change the language of no-smoking areas to make it clear "that if you can't smoke there, you shouldn't be using an e-cigarette".
A new licensing scheme will crack down on chop shops, which sell both illegal tobacco and vapes to children.
"It's the actual legit small businesses, tobacconists, who have come to us and said 'we want you to regulate us, we want to be licensed, we want to be able to find the ones who aren't licensed or shouldn't be'," Ms D'Ath told ABC Radio Brisbane on Monday.
The proposed laws will streamline the licensing system and also ban children from designated smoking areas in pubs, clubs and restaurants.
The bill comes after the state government ordered a parliamentary inquiry into the health risks of vaping and young people using e-cigarettes.
Ms D'Ath said even vapes that claim not to contain nicotine often do, meaning people can become addicted without realising it.
Additives found in antifreeze and carcinogens such as formaldehyde and acetone have also been found in e-cigarettes, she said.
Marketing to school children is a major problem with flavours like bubblegum and vanilla common, the minister said, and some vapes look like highlighters that students can easily hide in pencil cases.
"Teachers are begging for help in this space because kids are becoming so addicted they can't sit through a lesson without being agitated," Ms D'Ath said.
"We don't want to be here in 20 or 30 years' time looking back, like we all did globally on tobacco, and going 'if only'."
The Australian Medical Association Queensland, a peak doctors' lobby, applauded the proposed laws and the inquiry, saying it was important to protect children and other non-smokers from nicotine addiction.
"We must ensure vaping does not become a gateway to nicotine addiction and lung damage for new generations who would never consider smoking a tobacco cigarette," AMAQ president Maria Boulton said.
There's also signs of greater scrutiny at a federal level after Nationals leader David Littleproud suggested tightening regulation on vape flavours and chemicals.
"The problem we've got is we've got all these fruit flavours that have been so enticing to children," he told the Today Show on Sunday.
"The reality is that if you don't have regulation that regulates what's in it and regulates how it's flavoured, then it opens up this Pandora's box."
"It is important that we act swiftly, but we act with the science we've got and any science we can get."
Mr Littleproud said his partyroom was likely to form a position in the next week.