Easy online access to vapes puts teens at risk - Institute for Respiratory Health

Easy online access to vapes puts teens at risk

Friday, May 31, 2024 | News

You just have to search “vapes for sale online” to see how easy it is for teens and young adults to access vapes. Despite Western Australia (WA) having the strongest regulations relating to vaping, making it illegal to purchase e-cigarettes without a prescription, these measures alone are not enough to prevent teens from accessing these products online.

World No Tobacco Day, Friday 31 May 2024, serves as a crucial reminder of the ongoing battle against tobacco and nicotine addiction. The Institute for Respiratory Health is emphasising the urgent need to address the dangers of vaping among young people. This year’s theme is a call to action for governments, communities and individuals to prioritise the health and future of our youth.

Professor Yuben Moodley, Deputy Director at the Institute for Respiratory Health, said, “We’ve made tremendous strides in curbing smoking rates but the rise in youth vaping threatens to undo this progress.

“The tobacco industry’s tactics are sophisticated, and while our current regulations are robust, we must adapt to the realities of online access and buying vapes through social media platforms. More education and stricter online regulations are essential to prevent our youth from falling into the trap of nicotine addiction.”

Professor Moodley went on to explain that many retailers provide a mobile number where you can text through your order in seconds. And although it’s promising to see many brick-and-mortar stores closing, they are still selling their products online.

Research indicates that teens who vape are three times more likely to start smoking, posing a significant threat to the progress made in reducing smoking rates over the years.

Vaping allows tiny particles to be inhaled deep into the lungs. These tiny particles spread and settle throughout the airways. Here, these chemicals can cause inflammation, cell death, scarring and DNA damage.

“Flavouring chemicals in vapes have been linked to ‘popcorn lung,’ causing inflammation, permanent damage and scarring in the small branches and airways in the lungs,” Professor Moodley said.

“Most of the time you have no idea what you’re vaping, or the dangers to your lungs. Research has shown vapes to contain other chemicals that are toxic to the lungs, such as chlorine (found in disinfectant) and acrolein (found in weed killer).”

The Institute is committed to raising awareness about these risks and to ongoing research to demonstrate the long-term health effects of vaping as they are not yet fully understood.

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