Over recent years, the state of Victoria has seen a rise in the number of young people ‘vaping’. This ever-growing trend is seeing our teenagers gaining access to e-cigarettes, and ‘vaping’ without any knowledge about the legalities or potential harm being caused to themselves and others. I bring this information to your attention so that we might all be aware of, and partnering together, to address issues that are impacting our young people at this present moment.
In the media earlier this year James Merlino also drew attention to the issue of ‘vaping’ which has become widespread across schools, and is prevalent in promotion on social media platforms. These behaviours have been on the rise across Victoria following our last two years; with ongoing lockdowns, impact to mental health and an increase in anxiety and poor coping strategies. As a school community, we understand that we are not immune, and that a number of our young people may have found themselves caught up in the use, possession or distribution of e-cigarettes.
Parents, carers, schools, and community all play an important role in protecting children and young people from, and educating them about, the harmful effects of smoking and vaping. The fact is, that social media is being used extensively by tobacco and e-cigarette companies to market e-cigarettes to teens and young adults. Online influencers are promoting their use and ‘normalising’ their existence in the teenage community.
E-cigarettes pose serious health risks to teens. In 2019, 18.6% of Australian teens and young adults aged 15-24, who are current tobacco smokers, used e-cigarettes, an increase from 6.6% in 2016. A Royal Children’s Hospital ‘Child Health Poll’ found 57% of parents have never discussed e-cigarettes with their teen.
So what do you need to know?
E-cigarettes, also known as ‘vapes’, are battery operated devices that work by heating a liquid (or ‘juice’) until it becomes an aerosol that users inhale. Some people mistakenly believe the ‘cloud’ from vaping is a vapour, like steam. It is really an aerosol, a fine spray of chemicals that enter the body via the lungs and small particles that can lodge in the lungs. Using an e-cigarette is commonly called ‘vaping’.
The Department of Education and Training has developed resources to help you learn more about the health risks of smoking and vaping, and some suggestions about how to talk to children and young people about vaping, and where to get support. To access the resources, go to https://www.vic.gov.au/smoking-and-vaping-advice-parents
I can also highly recommend watching this video on smoking and vaping from experts at the Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne for health advice and tips for starting a conversation with your young person.
It is our priority as a school to provide a safe place for our students, which is why we have a zero tolerance policy for the use of, possession of or distribution of e-cigarettes at school. However, this does not exclude our desire to support the individuals who may find themselves caught in this cycle of addiction. Should you have any concerns about this issue, or wish to request support for your child who may be dealing with addictive behaviours or substance abuse issues, please contact the school to discuss these matters further.