What you need to know about 'vaping'

Get the facts on e-cigarettes and talk to your child about vaping so they can make a healthy choice.

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

Parents and carers of adolescent students will be concerned to know the Department is seeing an increase in students using e-cigarettes, or “vaping”.

Some kids try vaping out of curiosity, are attracted by the marketing, their friends or family do it, or they think it’s cool.

By talking to your child about e-cigarettes, you may help prevent them from vaping.

What are e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes, or electronic cigarettes, 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 chemicals including nicotine directly to the lungs.

The vaporiser can either be refillable or disposable and like the E-liquid can be purchased in shops or online. The device can come in many shapes and sizes and can look like a cigarette or an everyday item such as highlighters, pens or USB memory sticks.

The sale of e-cigarettes to minors under the age of 18 is banned. Vaping is prohibited in areas designated as smoke-free.

The targeted marketing of e-cigarettes is not subtle, nor plain-packaged. The fluid is sold in a range of appealing flavours to teens like ‘blue raspberry’ (“like the blue lollies you used to get as a kid”), ‘berry blast’ and ‘cola ice’.

What are the dangers

The Cancer Council states e-cigarette are not risk free. As vaping is relatively new, the short and long-term effects are not fully understood by researchers.

Vaping will likely expose the user and bystanders to chemicals and toxins such as propylene glycol, glycerol and ethylene glycol.

E-cigarettes may also increase the risk of developing

  • cardiovascular disease

  • cancer

  • respiratory diseases.

Nicotine

E-cigarettes may contain nicotine, even when the products’ label claims that it does not contain nicotine.

While it is currently illegal to buy or sell nicotine E-Liquids in Australia, some are imported or sold online and these refills and disposable vaporisers may contain nicotine, sometimes at high levels.

The Cancer Council says that nicotine can harm the developing teenage brain. The brain keeps developing until 25 years of age, and using nicotine as a teenager can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.

Using nicotine as a teenager may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.

Even if the liquid is nicotine-free there is a risk of it normalising smoking, and act as a gateway to tobacco cigarettes.

Note - If you are concerned that your child may be experiencing nicotine withdrawal please speak to your pediatrician or doctor.

School rules

NSW public schools treat vaping the same as smoking cigarettes, 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

Talk with your child, prepare yourself by getting the facts and role model an environment that's free of cigarettes and e-cigarettes.

The key to communication

K - Know the facts and where to find them.

E- Engage in the topic in a relaxed easy-going way, perhaps taking the cue from around you, a note from school, a news story on it, seeing people vaping on the street.

Y - You know best how to speak to your child, and in ways that work for you, and provide them with the right information to make a healthy choice.

Find more information on e-cigarettes at

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