As I watch my friend’s chest rise, he huffs in a mixture of toxic chemicals and nicotine from a small, discrete, colourful tube. Puffing out a white fluffy cloud, he says “It’s better than smoking”. But is it?
The answer is that we do not know. To date, there is no official data confirming the long term effects of vaping. However, what we do know is the rate of young people vaping is rapidly increasing.
Stephan (surname withheld), a nicotine vaper, 24, says “It’s more common than smoking. Within the last 12 months in particular it’s become really obvious to me. Prior to that I didn’t really see that many people doing it, but now it’s everywhere”.
According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, 20% of non-smokers aged 18-24 stated they tried vaping in 2020. This is significantly higher to the 13.6% recorded in 2016.
This means youths are increasingly trying vaping and are subject to becoming addicted.
The prevalence of vaping is attributed to its easy access, cheap cost and marketing promoting it as a safer and less harmful alternative to tobacco smoking. The e-cigarette doesn’t leave an after taste or lingering smell of tobacco either.
“I know of several convenience stores where you can buy the disposable nicotine vapes under the counter” Stephan told Sydney Observer.
Nowadays, high school bathrooms are becoming hot-boxes at lunch time and holding a vape is a young person’s accessory as they share it around at parties and clubs.
As a young person, I notice many peers, slightly older and younger, not interested in regular tobacco smoking but taking up vaping because it is cool, the social norm, and supposedly ‘clean’. However, its fruity taste is deceiving, and many young adults unknowingly develop a nicotine addiction.
Despite the ambiguous long term health risks, and the use of nicotine vapes being illegal within Australia without prescription since October 2020, they continue to be sold and bought by young teens and adults.
Stephan says: “If they want to protect young people, there needs to emphasis on confiscation and greater penalties for suppliers – more money going into detecting illicit supply”.
He added, “I don’t think they can really stop it at this stage, it’s too prevalent”.
Feature Image: Vaping https://vaping360.com – (follow https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaping360/)