Vaping, the AMA said, is threatening the health and development of Australian children, prompting school principals, teachers and parents to join them in making an impassioned plea for action.

In a joint letter to all Senators and MPs, the groups warn of the growing crisis of vaping in Australian schoolyards, where teachers, principals and parents are facing a difficult battle to protect the health and wellbeing of children.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said vaping is becoming normalised in Australian schools and big tobacco and the vaping lobby will do anything and say anything to keep these products on retail shelves — at the expense of children’s health.

“Vapes are filled with highly addictive nicotine and laced with chemicals that are known to be dangerous to human health, including formaldehyde, mercury and arsenic,” Robson said.

“The human brain does not stop developing until the mid-20s and nicotine is proven to have negative impacts on cognition, reasoning and attention — not to mention the significant disruption vaping has to school learning environments.”

The Federal Government’s next stage of vaping reforms will ban the importation, manufacture, supply, commercial possession and advertisement of disposable single-use and non-therapeutic vapes.

These restrictions will prevent widespread access to vapes and effectively remove them from school environments, while upholding the role of GPs in providing evidence-based care for people dealing with nicotine addiction.

The legislation has passed the House of Representatives, and it is now in the Senate for debate.

Australian Education Union federal president Correna Haythorpe said vaping is a significant issue facing Australian schools, and AEU members have highlighted its disruptive impact for students and for teaching and learning.

“The management of situations where student vaping is occurring should not be an additional burden carried by teachers who are already experiencing unsustainable workloads and managing more complex classrooms,” she said.

“We need a systemic response to vaping that is supported by governments and education departments.”

Damien Ellwood, president of the Australian Council of State School Organisations, said collectively his organisation is deeply concerned about the normalisation of vaping among youth.

“Urgent action is needed for a public health and education campaign, especially to equip families and carers with information,” he said.

“We need stricter regulations to reduce the supply of vapes, safeguarding our children’s health and well-being.

ACSSO is calling for significant funding for research, for education and for a public health campaign, and for all senators to pass the bill before Parliament to restrict the availability of vapes.

Andrea Obeyesekere, chair of Catholic School Parents Australia, said protecting children from the dangers of vaping is crucial for their health and wellbeing.

“This legislation is a necessary step towards ensuring a safe and supportive learning environment, free from the harmful impacts of vaping,” she said.

“Families rely on schools to be safe havens where their children’s health is prioritised, allowing them to thrive academically and personally.

“The proposed measures will help maintain this environment, reinforcing our commitment to fostering the holistic development of every student.”

Letter signatories include:

  • Australian Medical Association
  • Australian Education Union
  • Australian Council of State School Organisations
  • Australian Parents Council
  • Catholic School Parents Australia
  • Catholic Secondary Principals Association
  • Australian Secondary Principals Association
  • Australian Primary Principals Association
  • National Catholic Education Commission
  • Australian Special Education Principals Association
  • Anglican Schools Commission
  • Independent Schools Australia