Last updated on 05/05/2023


For people living with asthma, the rise in passive vape (e-cigarette) smoke in the community is another stress of getting a flare-up with little control over being exposed to it.   

This is especially so when the attitude has been, it’s ‘harmless’ or ‘better than smoking’ and social acceptance for their use has been building. 

“I am exposed to vaping given people slyly use vapes in pubs, buses and on trains. These people have little if any idea of what harm they are doing to themselves or others,” says Richard McMahon.  

Richard is a person living with asthma with many ‘younger’ friends who are using vapes.  

“I try to discourage them. You only need to endure an asthma attack and you know why (they are harmful),” he says.  

An overseas study in young people found e-cigarette use more than doubled the risk of asthma diagnosis and more than trebled the frequency of school absence related to asthma. 

We’re now facing a serious public health issue including asthma onset risk, and an enormous task to change the attitude and entrenched behaviour around vapes.     

“I ordered an early morning coffee last week at one of those holes-in-the-street cafes. A man on my left and a man on my right both started vaping. I am flanked by a strange-smelling aroma. I am worried about what I was breathing in and if it’ll trigger my asthma. I didn’t consent to it and they didn’t seem to care,” says Teresa Vella who lives with asthma.   

But this week we’ve turned a corner and in a remarkable way.  

The Health Minister has announced the biggest smoking reforms we’ve ever had. 

Asthma Australia has been asking for these reforms alongside other peak bodies like the Cancer Council and The Lung Foundation.  

The Australian Government will ban: 

  • ALL non-prescription vapes, including those that do contain nicotine and those that don’t.  
  • Fun packaging and they will look like prescription medication. 
  • All single use, disposable vapes, and 
  • There will be ‘quality’ standards put in place restricting flavours, colours and other ingredients. 

Like others, we are so glad to see this change, but we also reflect the concern of other public health bodies. We can’t forget about the kids who have been victims of this and become addicted to nicotine through unregulated vaping products. Asthma Australia will continue to support action in this space.  

If you have asthma and have been smoking or vaping and want advice or support, you can call our Asthma Educators free of charge on 1800 ASTHMA