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Australian Data Distortion

Data from the Australian National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019 has been skewed to misrepresent teen vaping by classifying ever use as regular use

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“Unbelievable political games” are being played in the latest Australian National Survey 2019. Figures have been massaged to demonstrate a huge growth in teen vaping – but all is not as it seems because of the way they are choosing to define full-time vaping. The usual subjects are crawling out of the woodwork to attack ecigs as it’s business as usual for one of the world’s stupidest anti-tobacco harm reduction administrations.

Dr Michelle Jongenelis, Centre for Behaviour Change at Melbourne University, commented: “Although marketed as a healthier alternative to traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes are not harmless and there are significant health risks associated with their use. Short-term consequences of use have been known for quite some time and data on the long-term health consequences of e-cigarette use are beginning to emerge, with studies linking vaping with cell death and increased risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

She told journalists that “65% of adolescents and 39% of young adults” now say they are vaping although they’ve never smoked.

Sixty-five percent?

58% of teens own an iPhone [link], does Jongenelis seriously contend that there are more children walking about with a vape device than an Apple in their pocket?

For comparison, Guerin and White wrote in “2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances”, that the teen smoking rate was 5%.

Even without looking at the research data, there is clearly a massive lie seemingly being spun by Jongenelis from the latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey.

These concerning proportions are likely being driven by the vaping industry’s narrative that e-cigarettes are ‘harmless’, increasing use among non-smoking youth also speaks to the vaping industry’s continued targeting of this population via youth-oriented marketing and the development of new youth-oriented e-juice flavours,” she added – speaking more of her targeting an ideological and emotional argument rather than presenting credible facts.

The industry does not target teens, and nobody has yet presented any evidence of it doing so.

Swivelled-eyed loon Simon Chapman popped up with another piece of trolling to accompany the turgid coverage, saying that smoking rates would have fallen further were it not for vaping - in the way the bad buy in Scooby Doo claims he'd 'have gotten away with it were it not for the meddling kids'.

Konstantinos Farsalinos said that “unbelievable political games” are being played “in the latest Australian National Survey 2019 concerning e-cigs. Current users includes less than monthly users, non-smokers includes former smokers!”

He included the media of making “huge mistakes” and promised a more detailed dissection of the survey soon.

Commenting on Twitter, he wrote: “While there is an attempt to present e-cigs as a problem in Australia, there is one table that, strangely (or not so strangely), none reports! Australian smokers are deprived from a harm reduction option that can be life-saving, and none is held accountable for this.

“The Australian Government needs to be transparent and release the raw data (anonymized) of the National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Transparency means allowing independent experts to analyze the data (as the US CDC does with the NYTS, the NHIS, etc).

“You also need to pay attention to the footnotes. They are very revealing of the way they created the definitions. Conventional current use definition (past 30-day use) is already useless (lots of experimenters), but for Australia is includes LESS than monthly users! Unbelievable.”

Australia is waging a war on common sense, evidence and science and is set to ban the import and sale of nicotine liquids from the beginning of next year – having deferred the deadline due to an outcry and political opposition.

This is just one more ideological propaganda attack, an amoral and ignorant position taken by fanatics who care little for the lives of smokers and ex-smokers. It needs to stop.

TripleJ Hack quotes Associate Professor Coral Gartner, head of the Nicotine & Tobacco Regulatory Science Research Group at University of Queensland: “No-one wants to see young people using substances, but we have to be honest with the data in our interpretation. We should be restricting access to the nicotine product that is causing the greatest harm in Australia, the tobacco cigarette.”


  • 2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian secondary school students' use of tobacco, alcohol, and over-the-counter and illicit substances by Guerin and White – [link]
  • Teen vaping is way less common than the news claims, TripleJ Hack – [link]
Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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