General Health

“Stop Vaping Now!” Researchers Issue Urgent Vaping Warning to Aussie Teens

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NSW Health have issued a scary vaping warning to young Australians, with the aim of raising awareness of the dangers involved with e-cigarettes. More and more teenagers are now experimenting and become addicted to vaping. Some see it as a rather innocent, and safer form of smoking. Sadly, research confirms it’s far from it, with ‘popcorn lungs’ and a cocktail of dangerous chemicals being inhaled. Now is the time for our teens to wake up.

Vaping? Stop it!

Teenagers think they know it all, right? Thought to be a healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes, vaping is a trend that is taking off in our teens (and tweens) and it’s time we acted as a community to do our best to bring awareness to its dangers and and help prevent it.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell have launched a NSW Health anti-vaping awareness campaign, Get the Facts – Vaping Toolkit.

Aimed at secondary school students, the campaign is designed to remind parents, carers and teens that vaping isn’t safe and can have dangerous, long-term effects on the physical and brain development of teenagers. Furthermore, research has shown that vapes are just as addictive as cigarettes. Which is a terrifying thought in itself.

vaping warning
A new Vaping Toolkit awareness campaign is aimed at educating Australian teens. Source: NSW Health

Weed killer and fly spray: Vaping is not a healthier alternative to smoking

And just in case you thought vaping was harmless, it’s important to know that they’re not. Vapes are not water. The main ingredient in vapes is propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine or glycerol. The fruity flavours mask the fact that when vaping you’re inhaling the same chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and fly spray. Vapes can also contain nicotine even when labelled ‘nicotine-free’, helping to establish a nicotine addiction.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration found 31% of the 214 e-cigarettes it analysed had chemical concentrations exceeding the legal limit.

If that’s not enough to make you want to put a blanket ban on vaping in your house, then I don’t know what will.

vaping warning
Not harmless. Vapes include the same chemicals found in household cleaners, fly spray, nail polish remover and weed killer.  Source: Bigstock

‘Popcorn lung’ and EVALI, the horrific dangers of vaping

It’s reported that one in three vapes sold in Australia contain illegal amounts of banned chemicals and may cause dangerous illnesses, including ‘popcorn lung’ as well as a build-up of fluid in the lungs and EVALI (stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury).

The Therapeutic Goods Administration found 31% of the 214 e-cigarettes it analysed had chemical concentrations exceeding the legal limit. Those substances included additives vitamin E acetate and diacetyl, which is widely linked to a condition that damages the small airways in the lungs, making breathing difficult, named bronchiolitis obliterans. A condition nicknamed ‘popcorn lung’ because it was common practice to add diacetyl to microwave popcorn as a food colouring.

vaping warning
A CT scan of someone with popcorn lung. Source: Healthline

EVALI in younger people is becoming more common. It was reported that Australian mum Natasha Stephenson, only found out her 15-year old daughter had started vaping earlier in 2020 and was now smoking nicotine vapes up to three times a week, upon being admitted to the hospital. The 15-year-old was diagnosed with hypoxia within hours and had to be partially ventilated.

‘She was really sick. They took about a dozen syringes from her lungs to drain 250ml of fluid that had built up from the vaping.’

‘She would ask for $5 to buy snacks or go to McDonald’s after school, but little did we know she was saving that money up to buy nicotine cartridges.

‘The guy she was buying them off would get them in with different flavours like grape, strawberry and watermelon. It’s basically a menu for kids.’

After a week in the hospital, Natasha’s daughter was discharged but even after several months, she continues to have ongoing respiratory difficulties, including ‘popcorn lung’. Natasha is just like every other parent and wants vapes banned from sale in Australia.

vaping warning teenagers
More and more children are experiencing severe side effects of vaping. Source: Bigstock

Vaping is no joke. The damage that vaping does to the lungs and the respiratory system should not – and cannot – be ignored. And just because you can’t see it, don’t assume it’s not happening. Children of all ages are being admitted to hospitals with health issues after dabbling in vaping, including this 5yo boy.

So now what?

Education starts at home. Minister Mitchell urges us to discuss the dangers of vaping with our children and talk about the hidden, dangerous impacts of e-cigarettes. She says:

“The number of young people vaping without consideration to the effects is concerning… Educating our young people about the dangers of vaping is essential when there continues to be a large number of reckless individuals selling nicotine products to minors.”

It’s time to take control and kick off a discussion about vaping with your kids. Need some resources to help open up a conversation with your teen? Parents and young people can get the facts about the dangers of vaping by visiting NSW Health.

If you know of kids vaping or supplying vapes to kids at school, let the school know so that they as a school, can address the problem.

An ongoing community issue, NSW Health has seized over 100,000 e-cigarettes worth an estimated street value of over $2 million from July 1, 2020, to December 31, 2021. Unbelievable!

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Avatar of Lexi Klaebe

South Australian mum and self proclaimed foodie, Lexi can most days be found in the kitchen, apron tied firm and armed with a whisk or wooden spoon!

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