Recent statistics have shown younger people are less inclined to smoke than in previous years, but more inclined to vape.
Echuca Regional Health’s Dr Freya Hildebrand said vaping — inhaling flavoured nicotine vapour from an electronic device — among youths seems to be increasing, despite a lack of information about the long-term effects.
“A lot of people tend to say that vaping isn’t as bad as smoking but the fact is that we don’t know that for sure,” she said.
“We have over 50 years of data and research on the adverse effects of smoking and we just don’t have that amount of research on vaping yet.”
On World No Tobacco Day, Tuesday, May 31, Dr Hildebrand encouraged young people to educate themselves on what a vape was.
“I guess the question to ask yourself is ‘what’s in a vape?’,” she said.
“There’s nicotine which is addictive and that means that you purchase more — it’s a marketing cycle. Marketing something with unknown harms makes it much easier to sell.
“I would advise against vaping as it’s potentially harmful, it’s addictive and it costs you financially.
“Smoking remains one of the leading causes of death worldwide and lung cancer is the number one cancer killer in Australia.”
Dr Hildebrand said she often educated and consulted patients about smoking through her clinical work, yet she wished there were more informative smoking-specific seminars that community members could attend.
Generally speaking, prevention was always the better option, she said.
“If you are a smoker there is an increased risk of most cancers, heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, vascular disease and inflammatory diseases,” she said.
“Unfortunately there are limited education sessions for the community at this stage, but that doesn’t mean that there are not fantastic resources out there, like Quitline.”
Dr Hildebrand said everyone was different and it might take some time to truly knock the habit of smoking.
“Smoking is not a character flaw or something to feel guilty about — it’s an addiction and just like all addictions, it takes time to rid yourself of a habit.”
“It could take you up to 20 attempts to finally quit for good.”
World No Tobacco Day aims to highlight the harms associated with tobacco as a means to encourage people to reduce or quit smoking.
For those who are want to read more about smoking’s impacts, visit https://www.health.gov.au/contacts/quitline