Television interview with Minister Butler and Karl Stefanovic, Today Show - 21 March 2024

Read the transcript of Minister Butler's interview with Karl Stefanovic on world leading vaping legislation introduced to Parliament.

The Hon Mark Butler MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care

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KARL STEFANOVIC, HOST: Well, Australia is moving forward with a world leading crackdown on vapes, with the Federal Government introducing a new law to ban the importation and supply of e-cigarettes. We're joined now by Health Minister, Mark Butler, in Canberra. Mark, good morning to you. You're going to be introducing new offences and civil penalties for anyone who imports or supplies vapes. What's that going to look like?
MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: We're very serious about this. It is a huge opportunity, Karl, for the Parliament to do something really meaningful and lasting for the health of young Australians. And these laws which will ban the sale, the supply, the manufacture, and the advertising of vapes other than for genuine therapeutic purposes, are going to have very strong offences behind them. They're going to be backed up by terms of imprisonment up to seven years, fines of up to $2.2 million, because we are determined to stamp out this public health menace which is particularly affecting our youngest Australians.
STEFANOVIC: You might have a fight on your hands, the Nationals and the Greens, because they don't mind a smoke every now and then, are both criticising these plans. Are you prepared to make concessions to get this legislation passed?
BUTLER: The laws I'm introducing to Parliament today have been the subject of long consultation. We had hundreds and hundreds of submissions from parent groups, from school communities, who are really worried about this now as the number one behavioural issue in their schools, but also obviously public health experts, tobacco control experts as well. So, we think these laws are well crafted. But of course, going through the parliamentary process, I'm going to be very willing to engage with parliamentary colleagues across the aisle - the opposition and the crossbench. I do reinforce, though, this is a very rare opportunity to do something really meaningful and lasting for the health of young Australians. And I really hope parliamentarians across the aisle take it up.
STEFANOVIC: You won't regulate under any circumstances?
BUTLER: The only groups that are arguing for us really to raise the white flag and accept this as just something on the shelves of Australian stores going forward, are the tobacco industry and tobacco retailers, those people who are profiting from this product that's causing really serious damage to our young people.
STEFANOVIC: When you saw Donald Trump unloading on Kevin Rudd yesterday, you must have felt like a vape?
BUTLER: Look, we know this is going to be a vigorous political - I can hear people laughing in the background there, Karl - I did not feel like a vape. Might have had another cup of coffee, which is my particular problem and challenge. But I think Kevin Rudd is very widely respected right across the aisle. He's bringing his usual work ethic to networking in America, as he did so notoriously here in Australia. He's widely sought out for his advice, particularly around China and Xi Jinping in particular. So, we're very confident that whatever happens in November, he'll be able to work with all US administrations.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Good to talk to you.
BUTLER: Thanks, Karl.

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