Vaping: An Epidemic Among the Young

Vaping was hailed as the new way to quit smoking but there are serious concerns the product is now causing nicotine addiction among the youth. It’s boomed in popularity particularly amongst those who have never smoked a cigarette in their lives.

ABC’s eye opening documentary titled Vape Haze revealed how parents and schools are struggling to manage this swift rise in vaping, with fears children are increasingly becoming addicted and causing harm to their health.

The head of the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), Professor John Skerritt, has warned that vaping is “emerging as one of Australia’s most significant public health problems”.

Illegal access

Under the rules and regulations, nicotine vapes should be hard to access. They are only available in Australia to adults with a prescription, issued for the purpose of helping a patient quit smoking.

A study conducted among 14 to 17 year old in New South Wales concluded that “vaping was the strongest risk factor for smoking, and vice versa, suggesting there is not a straightforward, uni-directional relationship between vaping and smoking in young people. Young people appear to be readily accessing nicotine vaping products, which are often disposable and flavoured, through both social and commercial channels.”

Teenagers were readily able to access and use illegal, flavoured, disposable vaping products that contain nicotine. Of the more than 700 teenagers surveyed, 54% had never previously smoked. 

Around 70% didn’t directly buy the last vape they used. Most teenagers (80%) obtained their last vape from their friends. However, for the 30% who did buy their own vape, close to half (49%) bought it from a friend or another individual, and 31% bought it from a retailer such as a petrol station, tobacco store or convenience store. Teens also said they bought vapes through social media, at vape stores and via websites.

Over half had also knowingly used a vape containing nicotine, and another quarter could not be sure.

86% used disposable vapes costing $20-$30, or as little as $5 online.

Health Risks and Education

Vaping is not without health risks. 

While e-cigarette aerosol may contain fewer toxicants than cigarette smoke, studies evaluating whether e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes are inconclusive.

Some studies suggest lung damage or pneumonia may be caused by vaping. Many vaping products in Canada and the United States have also been made with fruit-flavoured aerosols, leading to concern from some advocates about how these products are marketed and their potential appeal to young people.

The World Health Organization argues that “these so-called e-liquids may or may not contain nicotine (but not tobacco) but also typically contain additives, flavours and chemicals that can be toxic to people’s health.”

“The consumption of nicotine by children and adolescents has deleterious impacts on brain development, leading to long-term consequences for brain development and potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.”

“Nicotine is highly addictive and some evidence suggests that minors who use e-cigerettes but have not otherwise smoked, can double their chance of starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes later in life.”

Education and enforcement of existing laws is urgently required to prevent young people from accessing harmful and addictive products. Failure to act will see a whole new generation of Australians addicted to dangerous products.

Opinions or facts expressed within the content have been sourced from various news sources. While every effort has been taken to source them accurately, the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates do not take any responsibility for errors in these sources. Patients should not rely on the facts or opinions in the content to manage their own health, and should seek the advice of an appropriate medical professional. Further, the opinions or facts in the content do not reflect the opinions and beliefs of the pharmacy, its owners, staff or other affiliates. 

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