It’s no secret that vapes are wreaking havoc in schools across Australia. More than 3.5 million Australians aged 14 and older smoke or vape according to June research released by Cancer Victoria.
I think we can all agree that we don’t want our teens vaping but these e-cigarettes seem to be everywhere. How are kids getting them? And how can we stop it??
Strict vape laws to come
Health Minister Mark Butler announced today that a new scheme phased in from January 2024 aims to stop vapes from coming into Australia and our schools.
This is the number one behavioural issue in school communities around the country, indeed around the world … it’s just driving people crazy. It’s driving parents crazy,” Health Minister Mark Butler said.
These looming vaping laws will be the toughest the world has ever seen and will start with a single law to enable state police and health authorities to enforce a ban on the import of all e-cigarettes except pharmaceutical products used to quit smoking.
We’ve got some of the toughest laws ready to be introduced in the world,” Mr Butler told ABC. “We’re going to put in place an import regulation in by the end of this year, probably next month, that bans the import of all disposable vapes and all other vapes that don’t comply with those standards.”
Under the rules, the only vapes legally allowed into Australia will be pharmaceutical products prescribed by a doctor and dispensed through a pharmacy to help people quit.
New measures will see packaging and flavours used for pharmaceutical vapes severely limited, and potentially extend laws banning workplace smoking to vaping.
What exactly is inside a vape?
Vapes consist of a few key components: a battery, an atomiser, and e-liquid. The battery powers the device, while the atomiser is responsible for heating the e-liquid, turning it into the vapour that users inhale. Let’s take a closer look at the contents of e-liquids:
Propylene Glycol (PG): This colourless and odourless liquid is a common component in e-liquids. PG is known for producing a throat hit similar to that of traditional cigarettes.
Vegetable Glycerine (VG): VG is a thicker and sweeter liquid that enhances vapour production. It’s often used in combination with PG to create a balanced vaping experience.
Nicotine: While some e-liquids are nicotine-free, others contain varying levels of this addictive substance. Nicotine is what keeps users hooked on traditional cigarettes, and its presence in e-liquids can contribute to the addictive potential of vaping.
Flavourings: E-liquids come in a myriad of flavours, ranging from traditional tobacco to exotic fruit blends. These flavourings are added to enhance the overall vaping experience.
Other Chemicals: Vapes and e-liquids can contain a range of chemicals such as acetone found in nail polish remover, acrolein found in weed killer and 2-cholorophenol found in cleaning products and bug spray.
What are the potential risks of vaping?
Nicotine Addiction: One of the most significant risks associated with vaping is nicotine addiction. Nicotine, a highly addictive substance, can lead to dependency, making it challenging for individuals to quit once they start.
Nicotine Poisoning: This is caused by too much nicotine from vapes. The symptoms can include sweating, racing heart rate, increased blood pressure, shaking and vomiting.
Respiratory Issues: Vaping has been linked to respiratory problems, including coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. The inhalation of vapour and its chemical components may irritate the lungs, posing potential risks to respiratory health. They can increase the odds of being diagnosed with asthma.
Cardiovascular Concerns: Studies suggest that vaping may have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. The inhalation of certain substances in e-liquids could contribute to an increased heart rate and blood pressure, potentially putting strain on the cardiovascular system.
Unknown Long-Term Effects: Vaping is a relatively new phenomenon, and the long-term health effects are not yet fully understood. Researchers continue to investigate the potential risks, and until conclusive evidence is available, caution is advised. Vapes do not always list all the ingredients inside and can often include heavy toxins and carcinogens.
Youth and Nicotine Exposure: The popularity of vaping among young people is a growing concern. The appealing flavours and discreet nature of e-cigarettes make them attractive to adolescents, increasing the risk of nicotine exposure during a crucial period of brain development.
Quality Control Issues: The lack of consistent quality control standards in the production of e-liquids poses additional risks. Contaminants or impurities in poorly manufactured products may have unintended health consequences for users.
How are young people getting their hands on vapes?
The accessibility of vapes to young people has been a growing concern, and various factors contribute to their ability to obtain these devices. Even in states that vapes are illegal, such as Queensland, teens are still getting their hands on them without any problems.
Here are some common ways young people may access vapes:
Online Purchases: The internet provides a relatively easy and discreet way for young people to purchase vapes. Some online retailers may not have stringent age verification processes, making it possible for underage individuals to order vaping products.
Social Sources: Young people often obtain vapes through social sources, such as friends or acquaintances who are of legal age to purchase these products. In some cases, older siblings or classmates may play a role in facilitating access to vapes.
Physical Retail Stores: Despite regulations in many places prohibiting the sale of vaping products to minors, some young people may attempt to purchase vapes from physical retail stores that do not strictly enforce age verification protocols. This can happen through misrepresentation of age or through lenient oversight by store employees.
Social Media and Online Platforms: Social media platforms and online marketplaces can also serve as channels for young people to acquire vaping products. Some individuals may engage in peer-to-peer transactions or find sellers who operate through social media platforms, bypassing traditional retail channels.
Parents or Guardians: In certain instances, young people may access vapes with the knowledge or assistance of parents or guardians. While this may not be the norm, it highlights the importance of education and communication within families regarding the potential risks associated with vaping.
Hopefully with these new laws in place, access to vapes will be restricted and we can see a decline in this dangerous habit.
*If you or your young person is considering using vapes as a tool to quit smoking, it is highly recommended to consult with healthcare professionals. They can provide personalised guidance based on individual health considerations and help navigate the complexities of using vaping to quit smoking. They can also provide help with quitting vaping.
What to read next
- Alarming Vaping Numbers among Children under the age of 4
- Vaping Killed my Daughter – Mum’s Warning to Teens and their Parents
- Researchers Issue Urgent Vaping Warning to Aussie Teens