7 July 2019
Shops tempt young
CHILDREN as young as 12 are taking up vaping — lured with lolly flavours and in the mistaken belief it is safe. Record numbers of teens and university students are also using e-cigarettes, in a development the Cancer Council warns could lead to a generation of vapers and undo decades of success in reducing smoking rates.
A Sunday Herald Sun investigation has found Victorian vape sellers marketing sweet flavours such as Apple Gummy Os, Cereal Pop, Tuck Shop Apple Sours, Candy King, Buttercream, Crumbleberry and Blue Rasberry Ice Sours even though it’s illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to children. Retailers are also circumventing laws banning the sale of liquid nicotine or “vape juice’” by setting up warehouses overseas. It comes as a coronial inquest into the death of a Victorian toddler believed to have ingested liquid nicotine last year starts tomorrow.
Quit Victoria director Sarah White told the Sunday Herald Sun: “E-cigarettes could be perceived as a cool new gadget and safer than smoking, when, in reality, they’re just another way to get people addicted to nicotine.” “We’ve seen an increase of Australian teens trying or using e-cigarettes over the past three years, up to half of whom were not smokers,’’ she said.
The Cancer Council wants a crackdown on the importation of liquid nicotine and a ban on recreational vaping. Dr White said vaping could be dangerous and even fatal, with reports of serious injuries and deaths from exploding devices and children poisoned by liquid nicotine. Calls to Australian poisons centres about children being exposed to nicotine had increased substantially over recent years, she said.
Studies show up to seven in 10 “vape juices” claiming to be nicotine free in Australia contained the addictive substance. The Cancer Council is aware some vape shops were importing liquid nicotine from New Zealand and illegally supplying it to customers. The latest Australian Secondary Schools Alcohol and Drug Survey shows 4 per cent of 12-year-olds and 21 per cent of 17-year-olds have vaped.
A report by Curtin University and the Victorian and Western Australian cancer councils shows vaping is increasingly popular with young adults. “The availability of flavourings is cited by young adult ecigarette users as contributing to their initiation and continued use of the devices,” it states. Curtin researcher Dr Michelle Jongenelis said research showed vaping could be a gateway to smoking.