The four-day Global Nicotine Forum 2023 (GFN23) was held on June 21 at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, under the theme “Reducing Tobacco Harm – The Next Decade. The forum attracted senior practitioners, scientists and academics from international tobacco companies, leading international universities, non-profit organizations and research institutions.
Dr. Carolyn Beaumont, an Australian GP and founder of MedicalNicotine, spoke at the Global Nicotine Forum (GFN) 2023 to discuss the consequences of Australia’s ban on over-the-counter e-cigarettes.
Australia’s implementation of a prescription e-cigarette regime has not been able to ban the use of over-the-counter e-cigarettes.
The scene of illegal youth use of disposable e-cigarettes in youth-heavy venues, such as music festival venues, is grim, with Beaumont noting:
“The underlying reason e-cigarettes are everywhere at music festivals is because of the attendees and the young people under 21 years old.”
This population is overwhelmingly buying disposable e-cigarettes on the black market, a trend that is skyrocketing in Australia. Because these products are officially illegal, festival attendees keep them during the event and discard them afterwards to avoid detection by security.
Dr. Beaumont noted that the failure to responsibly dispose of these e-cigarettes is largely due to the fact that outdoor music festivals are limited by facilities:
“Facilities at these events are limited, and dumpsters and restrooms are usually far away. Few people will leave their viewing location just to find a dumpster.”
Despite the ban, the illegal e-cigarette market in Australia continues to thrive. Dr. Beaumont estimates that some of these illicit e-cigarettes account for 80 percent of all e-cigarette use, and almost 100 percent of it is among young people.
And where do these discarded e-cigarettes end up? Dr. Beaumont confesses:
“From what I know, some of these used e-cigarettes are not sent to recycling processing facilities. Recycling processing in Australia is often problematic, and even when glass is recycled, it often ends up in general waste or exported to other countries.”
In the discussion session that followed, Dr. Beaumont, along with other academics, elaborated on the regulatory failures of e-cigarettes in Australia, hinting at the need for a more effective approach to address the problem.