VACCHO Submits Evidence at Inquiry into Vaping and Tobacco Controls 

Apr 29, 2024

VACCHO Acting CEO and proud Gumbaynggirr man Jim O’Shea submitted evidence at the Parliament of Victoria’s inquiry into vaping and tobacco controls in Melbourne today.

The focus of the inquiry is an evaluation of the associated financial, health, social and environmental effects of tobacco and e-cigarette use on the wider community. The inquiry is also examining the causes and consequences of the illicit tobacco and e-cigarette industry in Victoria and how it impacts the state’s justice system.

Tobacco smoking is alarmingly impactful on the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, with research published in 2021 suggesting that it causes 50% of deaths among adults aged 45 and over, and 37% of deaths at any age. (Thurber KA,,2021)

The rapid increase in vaping among youth is also of significant concern. A global systematic review conducted in 2022 concluded that there is strong evidence that people who regularly vape are around three times more likely to take up smoking (Banks, E,, 2022).

As part of its submission, VACCHO is demanding decisive action in the fight against the threats of tobacco and vaping that are impacting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Communities in Victoria, particularly young people.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) must be empowered to lead and implement tobacco and vaping control initiatives (inclusive of workforce, system improvement and community awareness) that are wrapped in culture and are community-driven, ensuring sustainability and effectiveness. Prioritising the holistic understanding of physical, social, emotional, and cultural wellbeing is central to the development of a successful response to vaping and tobacco controls.

Among some of the key recommendations outlined within VACCHO’s submission are,

  • The Victorian government needs to advocate for the improvement of accessibility within ACCOS to NRT products to support smoking and vaping cessation.
  • The Victorian Government must ensure that strategies to decrease youth access to e-cigarettes and tobacco is a priority.
  • The Government must also ensure that there is adequate legislation, regulatory and administrative frameworks to reduce access of e-cigarettes through the illegal market in line with the national e-cigarette reforms which are due to roll out over the course of 2024.

Quote to be attributed to VACCHO Acting CEO Jim O’Shea;
“We’re extremely concerned by the impacts vaping and tobacco use has on young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria – particularly school age children.”

“The challenges posed by Big Tobacco and vaping are not insurmountable. They require our collective commitment to enact and enforce stronger protections, support community health initiatives, and continue to educate our communities about the risks associated with these products.”

“VACCHO is committed to working alongside the government and our community partners to ensure that our approaches not only reduce harm but also respect and uphold the dignity and health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria.”

“Today’s submission is about highlighting the benefits of self-determination and having Aboriginal health in Aboriginal hands. It’s also about calling for greater support of ACCHOs so that they can innovate and lead the way to implement culturally appropriate services and tailored supports to lower smoking rates in the Community.”

“Aboriginal-led and localised approaches deliver the best results for Community and Aboriginal knowledge, empowerment, advocacy, and innovation are the key to closing the gap in health disadvantages experienced by our people.”

VACCHO’s submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into vaping and tobacco controls and position statement can be viewed in full here.

Photo from live stream of inquiry. L-R: Stephanie Kilpatrick, Jim O’Shea and Clare O’Reilly, VACCHO.

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VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 33 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.