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Push to legalise vaping persists despite shocking underage vape statistics

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Vaping is in the spotlight this week, with the tragic death of a child and staggering statistics on the prevalence of the practice.

The Victorian coroner is investigating the death of a 19-month-old baby, who died after accidentally drinking liquid nicotine.

New statistics also reveal that four per cent of 12-year-olds say they’ve tried vaping, and 21 per cent of 17-year-olds have tried it.

But advocate still say vaping should be legalised.

Vaping devices are legal in Australia, as are nicotine-free vaping liquids, but liquids containing nicotine cannot be purchased here.

Brian Marlow, Campaign Director of Legalise Vaping Australia, called for full legalisation of the practice.

“Prohibition doesn’t work long term,” he told 3AW’s Nick McCallum.

“By legalising it what you’re allowing adult vapers to do is access a product that meets some basic standards, that meets the kind of consumer standards that we all have come to expect from any other product that we buy in Australia.”

There are concerns that the candy flavours of many vaping liquids are enticing young people into the taking up the practice.

But Mr Marlow said evidence from countries which have legalised vaping shows legalisation does not increase the prevalence of underage vaping.

“In the UK you’re not looking at a gateway or a pathway on to smoking for vapers, you’re looking at it as a pathway off,” he said.

Nicotine vapes are also much less harmful than cigarettes.

“They aren’t harmless, but they’re significantly less harmful than traditional cigarettes,” Mr Marlow said.

“You’re heating up a liquid and creating a vapor, you’re not burning a tobacco leaf and creating the carcinogens and the tar that smokers inhale.”

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