Ugly scene on side of Aussie road reveals growing problem

The country continues to grapple with the health and environmental impacts from the surge in vape popularity.

Dozens of multicoloured vapes lie on the West Gate Freeway roadside barrier.
Dozens of vapes were spotted littered along the roadside barrier on the West Gate Freeway in Melbourne. Source: Reddit

The sight of dozens of vapes littered along the roadside barrier of a busy freeway has revealed the ugly truth about the surging popularity of e-cigarettes. Australia, like many other countries, is not only grappling with their health implications, but also the environmental repercussions.

The shocking image of multicoloured vapes strewn across the concrete barrier on the West Gate Freeway heading out of Melbourne was recently shared on social media. The devices appear to have been tossed by motorists travelling on the road. Some locals suggested online they had been there for "months".

"Is it that hard to put it in your pocket and dispose of it properly?" one Aussie questioned, while others called the sight "disgusting".

"I've driven past this multiple times on the Westgate outbound," someone else claimed. "I wonder if it's always just the same person turfing this. Or if it's a community of a******s contributing."

Although tobacco smoking has fallen out of favour in recent years, the rise in vaping has been considerable. The number of adult vapers has grown by 349 per cent over the last five years, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores reports.

Vaping has been deemed a "young person phenomenon" by the University of Melbourne after it found Aussies between the ages of 15 and 19 were 13.8 per cent more likely to use e-cigarettes compared to 30 to 39-year-olds. Palatable flavours such as blue raspberry and cola, alongside viral TikTok trends, are believed to be contributing to their soaring popularity.

As use of the electronic devices is relatively new, long-term health implications are unclear at this stage, but early evidence suggest they cause significant respiratory problems and can impact the development of the adolescent brain — similar to that of tobacco smoking.

Ironically, the devices were created as a tool to help smokers quit. Now many vapes include tobacco.

Australian Health Minister Mark Butler points to confiscated single-use vapes during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra.
Federal and state governments are desperately trying to halt the popularity of vaping. The number of adult Aussie vapers has grown by 349 per cent over the last five years. Source: AAP

In a desperate attempt to crackdown on their popularity, the federal government announced a ban on single-use vape importation, which came into effect on January 1 this year.

Not only do the single-use devices contribute to the country's already 75.8 million tonnes of waste each year, they also pose a threat of combustion and subsequent fire hazards if incorrectly discarded of, with the chemicals also polluting waterways and adding to microplastic waste.

At the beginning of the year Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told he wasn't "remotely interested" in vaping personally, citing the severe "damage [to] your health" they pose.

His government implemented further action to curb vape popularity by banning the importation of non-therapeutic vapes into the country in March. He has also proposed legislation around restrictions in manufacturing and supplying vapes.

Yahoo News has reached out to the Department of Transport and Planning for further details about the litter along the West Gate Freeway.

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