15 March 2022
By: Madeleine Achenza Source: The Australian
The Department of Education and NSW Health have collaborated on a new campaign to educate students from primary through to high school on the facts and dangers of vapes.
This comes as NSW schools report rates of vaping on school grounds – particularly in the privacy of bathroom stalls – are on the rise.
The campaign is aimed at secondary students but will also be distributed throughout primary schools to bust the myth that vaping is safer than smoking.
Not much has been known about what ingredients are actually contained in the vapour inhaled into the lungs when using a vape.
NSW Health has revealed the same harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray are also used in the production of vapes.
“A respiratory researcher once told me that e-vaping liquids have chemicals that are similar to antifreeze, with 500 different flavours to attract kids,”
Health Minister Brad Hazzard told the media at Tuesday’s press conference.
Most vapes also contain nicotine, the addictive substance contained in cigarettes – some at extremely high concentrations.
Mr Hazzard indicated while a campaign can only do so much, NSW Health will be reaching out directly to schools where there is major concern.
Vapes are still relatively new technology, so there is still very little evidence to show the long-term effects of their use. However, early studies have indicated they can cause significant damage to lungs and impact brain development in young people.
Acting chief health officer Dr Marianne Gale explained vaping also has a number of immediate effects on the human body such as heart palpitations, chest pain and irritation to the throat and the lungs. Another concerning effect is the development of nicotine addiction.
Minister Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell has urged parents to discuss the dangers of e-cigarettes with their children and to report any usage in schools to principals.
The campaign is a proactive response to an issue law enforcement has been trying to get a handle on for years.
Vapes containing nicotine were supposed to become a prescription-only medicine in NSW after legislation was introduced in October 2021, restricting their point of sale to pharmacies.
However, Mr Hazard indicated law enforcement has faced significant challenges due to a large black market and teenagers able to purchase them directly from online retailers.
Penalties of up to $11,000 for individuals and $55,000 for corporations can be issued for selling vapes to minors.
Over 100,000 vapes worth an estimated street value of over $2 million were seized from 150 retailers in the 18 months leading up to December 2021.
You can get the facts about the dangers of vaping by visiting www.health.nsw.gov.au/vaping