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Back to "Education Law Notes - Term 2 2023"


Taking action on vaping

E-cigarette use (more commonly known as ‘vaping’) continues to be a problem in schools. Recognising the need to “stamp out vaping – particularly among younger Australians”, the Commonwealth Government announced on 2 May 2023 that it would introduce legislative reforms and implement policy measures to tackle the emerging vaping crisis.

Relevantly, the Commonwealth Government’s proposed legislative reforms would:

  • stop the importation of non-prescription vapes, including non-nicotine vapes;
  • increase the minimum quality standards for vapes – including by restricting flavours, colours, and other ingredients;
  • require vapes to be packaged in a manner similar to pharmaceuticals;
  • reduce the allowed nicotine concentrations and volumes of vapes;
  • ban all single use, disposable vapes; and
  • end the sale of vapes in convenience stores and other retail settings.

The Commonwealth Government’s proposed policy measures – encompassing enforcement of appropriate and inappropriate vaping, public health information and related support programs – are intended to be implemented to complement the above legislative reforms.

We have been monitoring the legal issues arising from the emerging vaping crisis for some time. David Ford’s article Does a school have a duty of care to students to prevent harm to them from vaping?, published in December last year, emphasises the responsibility of schools to minimise the risk of harm that students may suffer as a result of vaping, including in light of the existing legislative framework (which imposes strict requirements both on individuals and on operators of schools, which are intended to prevent vaping at schools). Once implemented, the Commonwealth Government’s proposed legislative reforms will also need to be factored into the approaches that schools adopt in responding to the emerging vaping crisis. We will monitor and report on the progress of these proposed legislative reforms, if and as they are introduced into Federal Parliament in the coming months.

Please contact David Ford or Stephanie McLuckie if you require any advice or assistance to manage or respond to vaping at your school, to consider the impact of the existing legislative framework or the Commonwealth Government’s proposed legislative reforms on your school’s approach to managing vaping amongst students.

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