From the College Counsellor
Vaping and Young People
Vaping is relatively new in Australia, with largely unknown long-term health effects. Current use among 18-24 year-olds has gone up from 2.8 to 5.3 per cent in three years. For the whole population, 1.1 per cent vape daily, compared to 0.5 per cent in 2016, according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey.
Whilst vaping amongst young people in Australia has increased only slightly, it is useful knowing what it is and its potential impacts on young people’s health.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) or another vaping device. E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that have cartridges filled with liquid. The liquid is heated into a vapour, hence the name ‘vaping’. The substances that can be vaped include nicotine, nicotine-free ‘e-liquids’ made from a mixture of solvents, sweeteners, and other chemicals and flavourings, and other drugs such as THC (cannabis).
The first generation of devices resembled cigarettes and were mostly disposable. The second-generation devices looked like pens, were rechargeable, and used cartridges or tanks for the liquid. The third generation, known as ‘mods’, are larger devices with bigger batteries and refillable tanks. The current generation of devices or ‘pods’ are much smaller, often resembling USB sticks, which can be charged in a laptop USB port*.
What do we know?
Nicotine is highly addictive and can slow brain development in children and teens and affect memory, concentration, learning, self-control, attention and mood.
Young people who vape nicotine are exposed to a toxic chemical that can harm adolescent brain development (the brain continues to develop until the age of 25) and lead to dependence. There is also some evidence that vaping nicotine is associated with later tobacco use among teenagers. The international evidence is emerging of a possible link between the use of e-cigarettes and lung disease.
Supposed ‘nicotine-free e-liquids can still contain traces of nicotine and a mix of widely varying unregulated chemicals and additives that are potentially harmful. Some chemicals found include heavy metals, volatile organic compounds (common in paint and cleaning products), and cancer-causing chemicals.
The advertising and promotion of vaping products in Australia is illegal. Companies have found other ways to target young people by glamourising their products to seem cool or fun and creating flavours that appeal to young people. They are also significantly more affordable than cigarettes. The products are easily accessible through online shopping and are also attractive to young people as they are discreet. It would be easy for a young person to vape at home and in school undetected.
What can you do?
Young people who try vaping or who are regular users may be unaware of what they are putting into their bodies and the potential harm. Approach the topic calmly and arm yourself with information. It can be helpful to focus on health and explain your concerns. Try to avoid exaggerated statements, judging or lecturing. Talk about how you care about them and be honest about potential harms. For more information and facts around vaping, go to https://adf.org.au/talking-about-drugs/parenting/vaping-youth/
If you would like to discuss the above or have any concerns about your daughter, please feel free to contact the College Counsellor, Louise Scuderi via firstname.lastname@example.org or Monica Rogenmoser via email@example.com or 0435 659 694.
Ms Louise Scuderi, College Counsellor
This article on College life meets The Archbishop’s Charter for Catholic Schools – Charter #6 & #8