Talking about vaping with young people

Australian surveys show vaping by young people has increased.16, 17

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 dependance.2

There is also some evidence that vaping nicotine is associated with later tobacco use among teenagers.20-24

Why are young people attracted to vaping?

The advertising and promotion of vaping products is illegal in Australia.

However, companies can use other strategies to target youth.

Social media has been found to play a role as both an information source and as a means of exposure to e-cigarette advertising in Australia.25

Companies are also glamourising their products to seem cool or fun and creating flavours that appeal to young people.26

There have been a number of studies which have found that e-cigarette flavours which give off the perception of sweetness (such as candy or fruit flavoured) may make buying and trying e-cigarettes more appealing among young people.27-29

"In recent years we have also seen the proliferation of shops selling enticing non-nicotine e-cigarettes and liquids with thousands of attractive flavours like green apple ice, cinnamon roll and alpha mint. These are purely recreational products that have no place in our market for either kids or adults.”30 Cancer Council Australia
Young people smoking cigarettes

Talking about vaping with young people.

Are you concerned about a young person who may be vaping? Having a conversation about it might feel tricky, but it’s always a good idea!

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Start with information

Get the key facts, learn the basics about vaping products, and think through what you want to say. Consider some questions you might be asked, and how you want to respond.

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Approach it calmly

You might want to start the conversation when you’re doing an activity together, such as driving or preparing a meal. Keep things casual and relaxed. You might want to use something you saw in a TV show or on the news as a chance to bring up the issue.

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Don’t make assumptions

If you think they may have tried vaping, avoid making accusations. Going through someone’s space looking for evidence isn’t recommended, because it can undermine trust.

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Avoid judging or lecturing

Listen to their point of view and keep it a two-way conversation. Being mindful to keep your body language and tone respectful can go a long way. If they have tried vaping, try asking questions like: ‘what made you want to try?’ and ‘how did it make you feel?’

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Don’t exaggerate

Make sure you are honest with them about potential harms and avoid exaggerated statements.

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Focus on health and explain your concerns

Focus on how you care about them and want them to be healthy. For example, if they are vaping nicotine you can say that you are concerned about the evidence that this can affect adolescent brain development.