Vaping – what you should know

We all know the dangers of smoking but not as much is known about vaping and the emerging information is disturbing.

A recent article in School News by Rosie Clarke talked about vaping and what it means for parents of teenagers in particular. Here are my ‘takeaways’ from the article and my research into vaping.

Most of you will have heard of vaping and the popular belief is that it is a safer version of smoking using electronic cigarettes but there is no scientific basis to this understanding. This myth was based on a guestimate by 12 people many years ago but has now been completely disproved.

Another belief is that the e-liquids used in vaping are harmless flavoured water but nothing could be further from the truth. The Telethon Kids Institute recently found out that six out of ten varieties of e-liquids that were advertised as nicotine-free actually contained nicotine. Some also contained a toxic chemical called 2-chlorophenol and many were made with heavy metals, formaldehyde, and by-products of animal bodily functions!

In an article by Carolyn Steber, seven of the most toxic flavours for sale include cinnamon, vanilla, buttered popcorn, strawberry and banana, creamy flavours like caramel, biscuit and Vienna cream, mint and mixed flavours. There is also a range of flavours that mimic those available at a popular doughnut chain.

‘JUULing’ is a term often used by teens instead of vaping but it is actually a brand of e-cigs that is particularly popular with the younger generation. The problem for parents is that this range of e-cigs look a lot like USB sticks and that makes it easier to go undetected.

An article in Time states that 150 people have been reported with lung diseases which may be linked to vaping and these are mostly among young people. The problem is that vaping is such a new phenomenon that there aren’t any facts available on its long term use yet.

The good news is that Australia has much stricter regulations than the US and you can only purchase e-cigs containing nicotine with a script from a doctor.

However, the bad news is that determined teens find a way around this by purchasing online from overseas. More bad news is that those e-cigs branded as nicotine-free (even though some tested as containing nicotine) are completely unregulated. This means there doesn’t have to be any specification about what ingredients are or are not in the flavoured liquids.

What should you do as a parent? Talk with your children/teens and stay informed. Keep abreast of the emerging information and keep conversations open.

Mike Curtis, Principal

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