Childrens Health

Alarming Vaping Numbers among Children under the age of 4

Yes. Children under four are vaping. And not just one or two children.

Health Minister Mark Butler says 50 children under the age of four in Victoria alone have ingested nicotine from vapes in the last year.

Some of the instances that make up these worrying vaping numbers are accidental as children may pick up a vape thinking it’s some sort of lolly.

woman smoking liquid nicotine e-cigarette, vaping

In other instances, parents have supplied vapes to their children for a bit of fun. Whatever the case, this number is disturbing.

The Victorian poisons hotline has reported that in the last 12 months, more than 50 children under the age of four have had to be reported to the hotline because of the dangerous ingestion of nicotine,” Health Minister Mark Butler told ABC Radio.

Vaping is now the biggest concern for primary students

The Health Minister also shared that vaping is now the biggest behavioural issue in primary schools across the country. Primary schools – as in children in grade 6 and under. 

In one instance, a “very young” child had been found with a vape in her pencil case made to look like a highlighter.

In another instance, a five-year-old in Victoria was hospitalised after vaping with a fellow student at school. It’s reported by the boy’s father that the vape his son had used was brought into the school grounds by a fellow student, aged just seven who had picked it up from his home.

Shockingly, many parents are also sharing their children vaping on social media. Earlier this month a New South Wales mother posted a video of her 11-month-old son sucking on a vape.

The baby is seen struggling to get air while sitting on his teenage mother’s lap. Those around him laugh and say, “It’s okay, bubba.” Another clip exposed a woman asking the baby, “Want to try it?” before sticking the vape in his mouth.

alarming vaping numbers in children under four
The disturbing video circulated on social media. The mother has since apologised for sharing it. Source: TikTok

Days later another video emerged of an infant girl from South Australia vaping next to a relative. The baby is handed the vape, inhales, exhales and blows smoke at the camera.

Shamelessly marketing to young children

Although nicotine vapes or electronic cigarettes are not meant to be available without a prescription, a black market has emerged and they are quite easy to access and are marketed towards teens and young children.

vaping warning
Source: Bigstock

“This is an industry shamelessly marketing, not just to teenagers but to young children. When you look at these things, pink unicorns and bubblegum flavours aren’t marketed to adults.

This is an industry that is trying to create a new generation of nicotine addicts so they get around all of the hard work our country and other countries have done over recent decades to stamp out smoking.”

How to control the vaping problem

There is a bit of controversy on how to tackle the obvious vaping issue.

Health Minister Butler wants to eliminate the products from even existing with greater import controls and controls over sales.

National party leader David Littleproud said that perhaps the best approach is to normalise vapes but ensure their sales are limited to people 18 and over. He also suggested getting rid of all attractive packaging marketed towards children such as fruity flavours and cartoon packaging.

“We have to get ahead of this because children are the ones that are the victims of this,” Mr Littleproud said on Tuesday.

What are the risks for kids?

The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne says that most e-cigarettes (vapes) contain nicotine which is highly addictive, especially for teens. E-cigarettes and their associated liquid may contain nicotine, even if they have been labelled ‘nicotine free’. One single e-liquid pod can contain as much nicotine as a packet of cigarettes.

The main ingredient in vapes is propylene glycolvegetable glycerine or glycerol. The fruity flavours mask the fact that when vaping you’re inhaling the same chemicals found in cleaning productsnail polish removerweed killer and fly spray.

Addiction aside, vaping can make your child incredibly sick. Nicotine exposure can harm brain development and nicotine poisoning – either through swallowing or skin contact – and can result in your child feeling symptoms including sweating, dizziness, vomiting and increased heart rate.

It can also lead to death.

In 2018, a toddler died after ingesting his mum’s liquid nicotine. At the recent inquest, the Coroners Court was told that the Melbourne mother, who was trying to quit smoking, had poured the liquid nicotine into bottles of vape juice. Reports state that she only turned her back for a few moments to put some of the bottles away. But when she turned back to her son she found him with one of the bottles in his mouth.

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Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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