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!

vaping graphic 1

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.

vaping graphic 2

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.

vaping graphic 3

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.

vaping graphic 4

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.

vaping graphic 6

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.

  1. Gartner C. Will the latest vaping reforms find the right balance and what will they mean for recreational vapers? The University of Queensland [Internet]. 2023 [24.01.2024].
  2. Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, Nguyen M, Martin M, Beckwith K, et al. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: umbrella and systematic review of the global evidence. The Medical Journal of Australia [Internet]. 2023 [23.02.2024]; 218(6):[267-75 pp.].
  3. Scully M, Bain E, Koh I, Wakefield M, Durkin S. Cancer Council Victoria. ASSAD 2022/2023: Australian secondary school students’ use of tobacco and e-cigarettes 2023 [20.02.2024].
  4. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).New regulation of vapes starting January 2024. 2023 [24.01.2024]. Available from:
  5. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2022–2023 2024 [29.02.2024].
  6. Christopher MS, Zubair K. Burn injuries caused by e-cigarette explosions: A systematic review of published cases 2018 [23.02.2024]; 4.
  7. McNeill A, Simonavičius E, Brose L, Taylor E, East K, Zuikova E, et al. Nicotine vaping in England: 2022 evidence update summary 2022 [20.02.2024].
  8. Cao DJ, Aldy K, Hsu S, McGetrick M, Verbeck G, De Silva I, et al. Review of Health Consequences of Electronic Cigarettes and the Outbreak of Electronic Cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury. Journal of Medical Toxicology [Internet]. 2020 [23.02.2024]; 16(3):[295-310 pp.].
  9. National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA). Is nicotine addictive? 2022 [24.01.2024].
  10. Notley C, Gentry S, Cox S, Dockrell M, Havill M, Attwood AS, et al. Youth use of e-liquid flavours—a systematic review exploring patterns of use of e-liquid flavours and associations with continued vaping, tobacco smoking uptake or cessation.Addiction [Internet]. 2022 [23.02.2024]; 117(5):[1258-72 pp.].
  11. Chan GCK, Stjepanović D, Lim C, Sun T, Shanmuga Anandan A, Connor JP, et al. Gateway or common liability? A systematic review and meta-analysis of studies of adolescent e-cigarette use and future smoking initiation. Addiction [Internet]. 2021 [23.02.2024]; 116(4):[743-56 pp.].
  12. Baenziger ON, Ford L, Yazidjoglou A, Joshy G, Banks E. E-cigarette use and combustible tobacco cigarette smoking uptake among non-smokers, including relapse in former smokers: umbrella review, systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open [Internet]. 2021 [19.02.2024]; 11(3).
  13. Becker TD, Arnold MK, Ro V, Martin L, Rice TR. Systematic Review of Electronic Cigarette Use (Vaping) and Mental Health Comorbidity Among Adolescents and Young Adults. Nicotine and Tobacco Research [Internet]. 2020 [23.02.2024]; 23(3):[415-25 pp.].
  14. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Tobacco and Cancer 2023 [23.02.2024].
  15. Jongenelis MI. Challenges and opportunities associated with e-cigarettes in Australia: A qualitative study. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, [Internet]. 2023 [24.01.2024]; 47(1).
  16. Therapeutic Goods Administration. Potential reforms to the regulation of nicotine vaping products: Consultation paper 2022 [24.01.2024].
  17. Lindson N, Butler AR, McRobbie H, Bullen C, Hajek P, Begh R, et al. Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews [Internet]. 2024 [23.02.2024]; (1).