If you’ve been too busy watching the Sydney Swans and haven’t heard of vaping, it’s the inhaling of a vapor created by an electronic cigarette (e-cigarette). These are battery powered devices about the size of a pen, and while illegal to sell to anyone under 18 years of age, they are heavily marketed to young adults through social media. Unlike the distinctive smell and taste of cigarettes, vapes are created with young adults in mind, with flavours like bubblegum and watermelon.

The expert’s view

Professor Adam Jaffe, a respiratory paediatrician at the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network has witnessed first-hand the acute lung injuries of children and young adults in the intensive care unit. He is worried young people who are using e-cigarettes are not aware of the potential harmful effects to their lungs and body. It’s not harmless fruity water vapour, as many may think.

Professor Jaffe advises parents should consider discussing the issue of vaping with their children from 12 years and up. They should acknowledge that many children and young people experiment with risky activities, and in doing so, they need to make informed decisions around vaping and take responsibility for their own health. The discussion should be open, non-judgemental and refer to credible resources where appropriate.

Do you know what they’re vaping? To help your child stay on top of their game, both physically and mentally, it’s important to help them avoid, reduce or quit vaping products. Stay informed – the more you know, the more useful information you can handball on to friends and family.

Parents should consider discussing the issue of vaping with their children from the age of 12.

What you should know

Emerging research confirms what health professionals and paediatricians have thought for a while. But, did you know?

What’s the damage and why are kids turning to vapes?

Adolescence is a critical period for brain and lung development, and the brain continues to develop until the age of 25. Exposure to nicotine and other harmful chemicals in vapes can cause headaches, nausea, anxiety and even seizures. Youth smokers reported they choose vaping to help deal with stress and anxiety, without knowing that nicotine addiction can further exacerbate these feelings. The long-term effects of vaping are still largely unknown at the moment, but the results from ongoing research aren’t looking promising.

Youth smokers reported they choose vaping to help deal with stress and anxiety.

Looking ahead to a win

Major public health initiatives have been successful in reducing the number of smokers in Australia in the past 20 years. Not only did the Sydney Swans win two flags in that time, but public health experts now understand more about why these initiatives were successful. With credible evidence gathering around the negative impact of vaping, and greater regulation around the sale to young people, experts are better equipped to tackle this health issue. Not only that, but the wider community are now more informed about the effects and risks of smoking. Australia has been a leader in tobacco control programs and that work doesn’t stop now vapes have hit our shores. Australia is on track to reduce imports of non-prescription vaping products and help set standards around flavours, colours and ingredients, so that vaping isn’t appealing to children.

Where to find more information

Want to stay in the know about other kid’s health topics? Head to the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network

If you’d like to support the incredible work of the Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network, please visit www.schf.org.au/donate.

For more information about the Sydney Swans’ partnership with Sydney Children’s Hospitals Foundation, please visit www.schf.org.au/swans.

Read more about leading a healthy lifestyle at our Wellness Hub, here.