Easy Access to Vapes for Teens

by | What We're Talking About

The rise in e-cigarettes has been remarkable over the past few years and it is estimated that 1.2% of Australians now vape. These devices are often marketed as a way to help adults stop smoking conventional cigarettes and are legally only available with nicotine in Australia for adults with a doctor’s prescription. Despite this, their rise in popularity is obvious, especially with young people.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 9.3% of people aged 18 years and over have used an e-cigarette or vaping device at least once in their lives.

A recent study from the University of Sydney looked into how teenagers are able to access e-cigarettes or ‘vapes’, as well as their patterns of use.  The researchers had more than 700 NSW residents between the ages of 14 and 17 complete an online survey, which asked questions about whether or not they vaped or smoked traditional cigarettes, the different types of vaping devices they had used and how they were able to access vapes.. They were also asked demographic questions such as gender, age, whether they lived in an urban or rural setting, and whether they identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

One of the key findings of the study was the relationship between smoking normal cigarettes and vaping is complicated and goes both ways. Those who had smoked cigarettes were 18 times more likely to have vaped, but vaping was not only popular in young people who smoked tobacco cigarettes. It also found that 65% of the participants had never smoked or vaped, and 23% had tried both. Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders, those who had previously smoked, and the older participants were more likely to vape.

The flavour and price of the vape were rated as the most important features. Of those who had vaped, 70% did not purchase their own vape, with the majority getting them from friends. Of the remainder who did buy their own, they tended to buy them from friends, from shops and petrol stations, and from online sources including social media. Most surveyed said it was very easy to access vapes.

This study has shown vapes are readily accessible and widely used by teens and young people. Their design makes them highly appealing – more so than conventional cigarettes. But they have a complex relationship with cigarettes, with vaping and smoking both putting young people at an increased chance of using the other.


Fact Sheet: Vaping and young people – Lung Foundation Australia

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