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Australia Copies US Toilet Errors

Australia has taken a further step along the road of stupidity and is focussing on closing school toilets to prevent a claimed teen vape epidemic

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“Schools lock toilets as vaping soars,” shouted one Australian newspaper. For years, American schools have been losing their collective minds and locking toilets or removing the doors from children’s bathrooms. The argument that this is needed to drive down teen vaping rates raises the question: why is it that Australia and the USA seem to have an issue when the UK (and its evidence-based approach) doesn’t?

New South Wales Education Minister Sarah Mitchell told journalists: “What’s needed is a broad community response to vaping, just like what we saw with smoking.”

Mitchell claims that it is estimated that electronic cigarette use within the teen population is “a growing concern”. She harped on about flavours, colours and images that appeal to children, mirroring the hysterical approach to tobacco harm reduction in the United States.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports of children being made to wait up to twenty minutes before being able to access a toilet due to a supervised queue system for the only toilets allowed to remain accessible. Other incidents involve long waits for a teacher to arrive at the toilet with a key to unlock the door.

Sarah Mitchell said: “It’s a concern. I mean, clearly, we are seeing more vaping among young people; e-cigarettes in schools are a growing concern. Schools are smoke-free environments and tobacco products, including e-cigarettes and vapes, are prohibited on school grounds.”

Australia now claims to have a teen epidemic. American public health authorities and tobacco controllers still cling to their similar claims despite having been roundly debunked. How is it that these nations have an issue when the United Kingdom does not?

The 2021 ASH YouGov Smokefree youth GB survey suggest that while some young people experiment with e-cigarettes, particularly those who have tried smoking, regular use remains low” – source.

Cameron English, writer for The American Council on Science and Health, recently looked at this issue.

In an ideal world, educators would help moms and dads [identify genuine risks] by giving them accurate information,” he says.

Referring to a recent article carried by Associated Press: “The article itself is only 139 words, yet it's chock-full of unnecessary exaggeration and innuendo from a school district superintendent. While she's undoubtedly sincere, her efforts will do nothing but inflame parents' concerns. We can all agree that teenagers shouldn't be using any nicotine-containing product, but there's a more responsible way to deliver that message.”

Vaping is not better than smoking,” the school district superintendent said.

Vaping nicotine is a low-risk activity relative to smoking tobacco. In fact, e-cigarettes ‘are estimated to be only a fraction as harmful as conventional cigarettes’,” Cameron English points out.

He concludes: “We all agree: vaping is an activity for adults; the fewer children who consume nicotine, the healthier society will be. That said, exaggeration helps no one. Let's redirect some of our energy to more productive causes.”

Exaggerated responses to an anecdotal problem make no sense, it simply makes vaping seem more edgy. Some have previously said the best way to deter children from trying an ecig is a poster campaign aimed at adults, featuring older people vaping. While your erstwhile reporter here is a very hip and trendy individual – most older vapers are not aspirational role models for teens.

Australia needs to have a good look at itself. It’s staunchly negative approach to tobacco harm reduction has increased the size of the black market and is now damaging the day-to-day experience of children in schools. It has to ask itself whether its puritanical bent is worth the lives of smokers and the happiness of its children. It needs to start telling the truth about vaping and stop listening to those with a vested interest in keeping people smoking.

Photo Credit:

  • Lock and chain, public domain image published by OpenClipart SVG ID: 143500

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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