Teenagers are increasingly falling victim to the dangerous world of vaping. This alarming trend was discussed in a recent webinar called Understanding Vaping, organized by Monash Health. Experts from various organizations, including Drug Education Australia, Monash Children’s Hospital, Quit Victoria, and the City of Casey, came together to shed light on the underestimated health risks associated with vaping.
According to data provided by Quit Victoria, the use of vapes among 14-17 year olds has risen from 1 percent to a staggering 14.5 percent over the past five years. This rate has jumped from 11.8 percent just in 2022. This sharp increase is deeply concerning, as it is fueling the resurgence of cigarette smoking among young people, a phenomenon not seen in nearly 25 years. Surprisingly, vape users are three times more likely to develop a cigarette smoking habit, adding to the overall concern.
Sharon Torpey, co-founder and director of Drug Education Australia, spoke out about the prevalence of vaping, deeming it alarming and unhealthy. She encouraged parents to engage in positive conversations with their children so they can make informed decisions regarding their health and well-being. Young people often turn to vaping to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, to avoid eating, or due to peer pressure. Unfortunately, they are also being misled by the labeling of vapes, falsely believing that they are “non-nicotine” products when they are, in fact, addictive and harmful.
It is essential to emphasize the health risks associated with vaping to counteract the targeted marketing strategies of the vape industry aimed at young people. Parents should also prepare strategies to help their children resist peer pressure. Many young individuals are unaware of the emerging health impacts and mistakenly believe that vapes contain just water vapor or pose a manageable risk. In reality, vapes contain harmful chemicals such as herbicides, insecticides, and paint-stripping acetone, all masked behind enticing flavors. Research has already linked regular vaping to lung inflammation and damage known as EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping use-associated lung injury).
Moreover, vape devices and their “juices” are largely unregulated worldwide, which poses significant risks to users. Poorly-built vape devices’ lithium batteries are known to leak and explode, causing fires and other hazards. A local council officer reported 120 rubbish-truck fires caused by compressing e-cigarette batteries this year alone. To make matters worse, many retailers are illegally displaying and promoting vapes, as well as selling them to minors, bringing about further challenges for regulatory authorities.
To tackle this growing issue, Federal plans to ban recreational vaping have been widely welcomed by the webinar experts. However, prosecuting retailers who illegally sell vapes to minors remains complicated due to lax labeling laws and difficulties in determining if the vapes contain nicotine. In some cases, only the police have the authority to prosecute nicotine vape sales, leaving the responsibility solely in their hands.
In the face of these challenges, it is crucial to provide support and guidance for individuals affected by vaping. Quitline, a platform offering support and assistance, is available for those seeking help. Their services, including phone support, online chat, and communication through platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are accessible Monday to Friday from 8 am to 8 pm.
Vaping poses severe dangers that must not be overlooked, particularly when it comes to teenagers who are falling into its harmful grasp. It is of utmost importance to raise awareness about the risks associated with vaping, regulate the industry more effectively, and ensure strict enforcement of laws to protect young people from its detrimental effects on their health and well-being.