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In recent years, the popularity of vaping among teenagers has skyrocketed, with a startling increase in the number of young users. But what are the real risks and dangers associated with vaping? A recent webinar hosted by Monash Health shed light on this concerning trend, urging parents and educators to take action.
The Alarming Rise of Vaping Among Teens
According to data from Quit Victoria, the rate of vaping among 14-17 year olds has surged from 1% to a staggering 14.5% over the past five years. The rate grew exponentially from 11.8% in 2022. This rapid increase has raised concerns among health professionals and experts.
Misleading Labels and False Perceptions
Sharon Torpey, co-founder and director of Drug Education Australia, highlighted the worrisome fact that many young people are unaware of the actual risks associated with vaping. Misleading labeling, enticing flavors, and a lack of regulation contribute to the misconception that vaping is harmless.
Contrary to popular belief, vapes are not just harmless water vapor. In reality, they contain harmful chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, and even paint-stripping acetone. Research has already linked regular vaping to lung inflammation and damage, also known as EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury).
The Link Between Vaping and Cigarette Smoking
One of the most concerning findings is that vape users are three times more likely to start smoking cigarettes. This alarming trend is reversing the decline in cigarette smoking among young people, which had previously seen a 25-year low.
Young people often turn to vaping as a way to cope with stress, anxiety, and peer pressure. They may be under the false impression that vapes labeled as “non-nicotine” are not addictive. However, many of these so-called “non-nicotine” vapes do, in fact, contain nicotine, leading to addiction and potentially more harmful habits.
Health Education and Parental Guidance
To combat the targeted marketing of the vape industry and reduce the appeal of vaping to young people, health experts emphasize the importance of educating teenagers about the health harms associated with vaping. It is crucial for parents to have open and informed conversations with their children to help them make educated decisions.
Additionally, parents should be prepared to help their children resist peer pressure by providing them with effective strategies and support. By promoting a strong understanding of the risks, parents can empower their teenagers to make choices that prioritize their long-term health and well-being.
The Need for Regulation and Enforcement
The lack of regulation surrounding vape devices and e-liquid products is a significant concern. Flawed devices and poorly regulated manufacturing processes can lead to leaks and even explosions. As mentioned in the webinar, there have been instances of battery-related incidents causing fires, further highlighting the importance of proper regulation and safety standards.
The webinar experts also addressed the issue of illegal sales of vapes to minors. With lax labelling laws and difficulties in identifying nicotine content, prosecuting retailers selling vapes to underage individuals remains a challenge. Regulatory bodies, law enforcement agencies, and local councils need to work together to ensure proper enforcement and protection of young people.
The Way Forward
In response to the concerning rise in teenage vaping, the Australian Federal Government has plans to ban recreational vaping. This step aims to restrict access to vapes and raise awareness about the potential risks associated with their use.
If you, your child, or someone you know is struggling with nicotine addiction or is interested in quitting vaping, Quitline is available for support. Contact Quitline on 13 7848 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm) or visit their website at quit.org.au. They also provide support through What’sApp and Facebook Messenger.
By understanding the risks, promoting education, and implementing necessary regulations, we can work together to protect our teenagers from the potential dangers of vaping.