What you need to know about vaping

Get the facts on e-cigarettes and talk to your child about vaping.

A group of vaporisers used for vaping, looking like coloured markers.
Image: Vaporisers can look like common objects like highlighters, pens and USB drives.

The department recognises the use of e-cigarettes or vapes is a growing concern for our school communities. Some kids try vaping out of curiosity after being attracted by the marketing promoting ‘fun’ flavours, after seeing their friends or family doing it, or because they think it’s cool.

By talking to your child about e-cigarettes, you can help them understand the risks.

Vaping toolkit

Parents, carers and students can draw on a collection of resources that increase awareness of the negative health impacts of e-cigarettes, and dispel myths around vaping.

These are available through the NSW Health Vaping Toolkit. The resources in this toolkit are suitable for young people aged 14-17 years, parents and carers, educators and all school staff, and the community as a whole.

The NSW Health Vaping Toolkit was developed in collaboration between the NSW Ministry of Health, Cancer Council NSW and the NSW Department of Education in response to the growing concern among principals and school communities about the increased use of e-cigarettes among young people.

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes (‘e-cigarettes’ or ‘vapes’), are battery-operated devices that heat a liquid into a vapour that users inhale.

The liquid is called e-liquid, e-juice or vape juice, and is designed to deliver vaporised liquids into the lungs. Vapes can either be refillable or disposable.

The sale of any e-cigarettes or e-liquid to minors under the age of 18 is illegal in NSW. Vaping is prohibited in areas designated as smoke-free.

What are the challenges?

Vapes are appealing to young people as they come in a variety of flavours and colourful packaging.

Vapes also come in many shapes and sizes and can be made to look like everyday items including highlighters, pens or USB memory sticks. In a school environment or at home, they can be hard to detect and identify.

There are many misconceptions around vaping, including that it’s just ‘water vapour’ or that they are ‘safe’ but this is not true. There are numerous physical and mental health risks associated with vaping, including lung disease, or the nicotine in many vapes causing long-lasting damaging effects on young people’s brain development.

What are the dangers?

The biggest misunderstanding about vapes is that they are harmless compared to cigarettes. This is not true. Vapes are not safe.

Many vapes that are labelled as nicotine-free, contain nicotine.

More facts:

  • Many vapes contain nicotine making them addictive.
  • The nicotine in one vape can equal 50 cigarettes.
  • Teens who vape are 3 times more likely to take up smoking.
  • Vaping has been linked to serious lung disease.
  • E-liquids can contain many harmful chemicals. They are just not listed on the pack.

School rules

Vaping and smoking cigarettes are treated in the same way in NSW public schools, as outlined in the Drugs in Schools Policy:

Smoking (including vaping) on school premises, including school buildings, gardens, sports fields and car parks, is prohibited. This includes students, employees, visitors and other people who use school premises, including community groups.

Schools follow procedures within the Drugs in Schools Policy and the Student Discipline in Government Schools Policy.

What can I do as a parent or carer?

As a first step to help protect young people, learn about the different shapes and types of vapes and the risk vaping poses for young people.

The NSW Health Vaping Toolkit includes a collection of resources for young people aged 14-17 years, their parents and carers, and teachers. If you think a retailer is selling vapes that contain nicotine, or selling vapes to anyone under 18 years of age, please report it to NSW Health or call the Tobacco Information Line on 1800 357 412.

If you are concerned that your child is using vapes at school, please contact the school. If you have concerns for your child’s health, please speak to your paediatrician or doctor.

Find more information on e-cigarettes at

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