Quit and Food for Health Alliance support call for urgent parliamentary inquiry into harmful industries

4 Oct 2023

Joint release from Quit and Food for Health Alliance

Quit and Food for Health Alliance today endorse calls for an urgent parliamentary inquiry into the impact of harmful industries, led by Dr Sophie Scamps MP. Ubiquitous vaping and junk food advertising targets children online, in retail stores and in outdoor spaces daily.

Acting Quit Director, Craig Sinclair sounded the alarm on the manipulative tactics used by harmful industries which threaten the health of the next generation of Australians.

“Vaping shops are opening up next to schools, selling lollies and toys. We're seeing this harmful industry recycle the tactics from its forebeares in Big Tobacco. This must stop.”

Quit along with VicHealth last week launched staggering new data about the proliferation of vaping content on social media – with more than 18 billion #vape posts on TikTok and 18 million #VapeLife posts on Instagram. The rise of pro-vaping influencers selling products to their audiences – many of whom are aged under 18 – is unethical, and indeed illegal in Australia.

Nicotine addiction in young people increases the likelihood of future substance addictions, and it triples the likelihood of taking up smoking. For the first time in 25 years, teen smoking in 14-17 year olds increased three fold in four years to 2022, alongside a 12 fold rise in vaping over the same timeframe.

Jane Martin, Executive Manager of the Food for Health Alliance said, "We're in a situation now where fast-food companies give meal-deal prizes to kids who participate in sport. Chicken wings ads are all over bus shelters.

"Put simply, it is unethical for businesses to sell harmful products that can undermine young people’s health alongside products they should not be using. That co-location of e-cigarettes and unhealthy foods like lollies and caffeine-laden drinks creates a new normal for young people. And that is worrying.”

Craig Sinclair renewed calls for government to do more to protect children from the reach of harmful, insidious industry tactics.

“We want to support this generation of young people to live healthy, enjoyable, and productive lives. We don’t want them to have to battle nicotine addiction, struggle to maintain healthy diets and weight, or see smoking and vaping normalised because of their exposure harmful industries. The time to act is now,” he concluded.