Health experts are raising alarm bells as the popularity of TikTok videos encouraging smoking and vaping among young Australians continues to grow. In response, doctors are urging the Australian government to impose a complete ban on the online sale of e-cigarettes in the country.
An inquiry into Australia’s recent vaping and smoking regulations recently heard concerning testimony from prominent medical organizations. The Australian Medical Association (AMA) reported that e-cigarette sellers are actively and aggressively targeting more young people than ever through online platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
According to their submission, TikTok has witnessed a surge in videos promoting e-cigarettes, with 63 percent of these videos portraying the products in a positive light and garnering over 1.1 billion views. Despite TikTok’s community guidelines that prohibit content related to the sale, trade, or promotion of drugs, controlled substances, alcohol, or tobacco products, poor content regulation by platform owners allows harmful content to reach young audiences.
AMA NSW President Michael Bonning emphasized the urgent need for the government to pass laws implementing a retail ban on non-prescription e-cigarettes. He expressed concern about the increasing prevalence of smoking and vaping, especially among young people, leading to chronic cough and new lung diseases. Bonning drew parallels between the tactics used by the tobacco industry in the past to promote their products and the current marketing strategies employed by the vaping industry.
The Tobacco Vape Research Collective (TVRC) noted that vaping is extensively promoted to young people through social media apps, using colorful imagery, appealing flavors, and sexualized content. Curtin University researcher Jonine Jancey highlighted that Generation Z individuals spend over four hours a day on apps, and online advertising tactics have become increasingly sophisticated. Research indicates that a significant majority of TikTok videos depict vaping positively, with over a quarter of them violating the platform’s social media policy.
In light of this evidence, the federal government announced its intention to ban non-prescription vaping products in May, marking one of the most significant smoking reforms in decades. The exact timeline for the promised ban on disposable vapes is still uncertain, but it is anticipated that the government will aim to pass an import ban through parliament by the end of 2023.
Originally posted on news.com.au