“But it’s only vaping. At least I’m not smoking”
Vaping or JUULing is on the increase in young people. According to the 2017 Australian Secondary School Students Alcohol and Other Drugs (ASSAD) study, 13% of 12 to 17-year-old students reported that they had ever used an e-cigarette. Around one third (34%) of 12 to 15-year-olds and just over one quarter (27%) of 16 and 17-year-old e-cigarette users reported vaping at least once during the past month.
“Schools are now having to deal with the issue and many parents simply have no idea what vaping actually is and why it has become so popular in such a short time.” (Paul Dillon)
Adults call them e-cigarettes and this can induce eye-rolling in children/adolescents who use the terms “vaping” or”JUULing”.
A “JUUL” is a particular brand of e-cigarette that looks a lot like a USB that statistics say young women are more likely to use.
Some facts about this growing phenomenon are:
- An e-cigarette is a device that simulates smoking by producing a vapour. Operated by a battery, it vaporises a liquid solution (called ‘e-liquid’ or ‘e-juice’) which may or may not contain nicotine, as well as flavouring.
- E-cigarettes are now most commonly referred to as ‘vapes’ by young people.
- There is also a particular brand called a ‘JUUL’ – it looks a lot like a USB.
- Lung damage and disease: EVALI (e-cigarette or vaping product-use associated lung injury) is a lung disease that has been identified in patients who vape. Symptoms include cough, chest pain, shortness of breath and fatigue, ranging from minor illness to death. Research is continuing to identify the role vaping plays in this newly isolated condition. In the US alone there have been thousands of cases reported and several deaths attributed to EVALI.
- It is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to buy e-cigarettes or e-cigarette accessories and for anyone to sell, market or promote e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 in Australia. The sale and possession, or use of e-cigarettes containing nicotine, is unlawful in all Australian jurisdictions under the poison control legislation, except where nicotine has been attained with a doctor’s authorisation.
- Nicotine is addictive and toxic – whether it is ingested as smoke or a vapour it is still a dangerous substance and should be avoided if at all possible.
- Products contained in e-cigarettes are not regulated and there is no way of knowing what users are actually inhaling in the vapour. One study found that the devices have more formaldehyde, a carcinogen, than traditional cigarettes. Flavourings normally approved for use in food production e.g. cherry, cinnamon, vanilla and popcorn flavours which, when inhaled directly into the lungs, can be toxic and have been demonstrated to have a range of different deleterious effects.
- E-cigarette use is likely to lead to eventual smoking of traditional cigarettes. A recent study found that even though they are often marketed as a way to help people quit smoking, the devices are more likely to promote nicotine use and act as a “gateway” to tobacco use.
- Internet and social media access has been driving the marketing success of vaping to a new generation. Australian teenagers have been buying e-nicotine liquid through poorly policed online stores, encouraged by social media with millions of posts dedicated to vaping.
Myth: Vaping just creates harmless water vapour.
Fact: Vaping exposes the user to a range of chemicals that can cause serious lung damage.
Myth: It will stop me smoking cigarettes.
Fact: Young people who vape are more likely to smoke.
Myth: Vaping doesn’t hurt people around me.
Fact: When you vape you breathe aerosol into your lungs and then expel it into the air breathed by those around you.
St Columba takes its duty of care to our students and community seriously. As a result, we have a policy that directly addresses the dangers involved in vaping:
St Columba prohibits the use, possession, sharing or providing of e-cigarettes/vapes on campus or at any School-related event.
Students in breach of this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions that may include suspension or even termination of enrolment.
This policy includes a ban on staff/parents/guardians/care-givers using vaping devices on campus or at School functions.
“My advice is to add e-cigarettes to any discussion you may have around smoking…
Raise it and let your child know exactly where you stand on young people and vaping.”
Paul Dillon, Director and founder of DARTA.
Mr Terry Muldoon
Principal, St Columba Anglican School