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Vaping myths go up in smoke

25 August 2022

If you think vaping is safe, think again.

Metro South Health clinicians are warning that colourful marketing aimed at young people is masking the health dangers of e-cigarettes and adding to the misconception that vaping is safer than smoking.

Senior Pharmacist, Isabel Chan, said underneath their brightly coloured packaging, e-cigarettes contained a frightening number of dangerous chemicals, not meant for human consumption.

“Formaldehyde, arsenic, chlorine, uranium, methanol and mercury are all found in e-cigarettes –substances commonly found in the aisles of hardware stores marked hazardous,” Ms Chan said.

“The cocktail of nasty chemicals is often masked by sweet and appealing flavours such as ‘skittles’ and ‘cotton candy’, so don’t be deceived by the fruity flavours or misleading labels of these products.

“These chemicals can cause serious lung damage and can be carcinogenic in their original state or become carcinogenic when heated and inhaled,” she said. 

Ms Chan said attractive marketing had also been attributed to the rise in popularity.

“With images depicting plumes of ‘smoke’ surrounded by mood lighting, and vaping devices in novel shapes it’s not difficult to see why curious young minds would want to experiment with e-cigarettes.”

Contrary to strict bans placed on tobacco products — that incidentally have been attributed to the successful downward trend in daily smoking levels — restrictions on vaping advertisements are seemingly unmonitored, particularly on popular social media channels.

“There are hundreds of vape products available, often purchased online, and due to the lack of regulation they can be made anywhere, by anyone and contain anything.

“This means products labelled as nicotine free could still contain the addictive substance, leading to the risk of vapers unknowingly developing a nicotine dependence.”

When asked how nicotine could affect the body and mind, Ms Chan said there was a long list of negative outcomes, particularly for children and young adults.

“Nicotine exposure can harm brain development which continues until about the age of 25. It can impact learning, memory and attention, resulting in poor academic performance, ADHD and aggressive behaviours, and future substance dependence disorders to nicotine and other drugs,” she said.

Ms Chan said she wanted current users to know smoking cessation help was available with several treatment options available.

“No single treatment is right for everyone, so I encourage you to contact your GP, pharmacist or Quitline for help to quit smoking,” Ms Chan said.

* To report illegal sale or possession of electronic cigarettes or electronic cigarette products containing nicotine, call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Last updated 25 August 2022
Last reviewed 25 August 2022

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