What are e-cigarettes?
Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigs or vapes are battery powered devices which heat liquid (called e-liquid) into an aerosol which is inhaled into a person’s lungs. E-liquids are often flavoured.
Using an e-cigarette is commonly referred to as ‘vaping’. Some e-cigarettes look like conventional cigarettes, cigars or pipes and others look like everyday items such as pens or USB sticks.
Are e-cigarettes safe?
- Public health authorities across Australia share concerns regarding the safety and health impacts of e-cigarettes, as well as the way e-cigarettes are marketed to young people.
- The manufacture of e-cigarettes is not regulated.
- Limited information is available about the ingredients contained in e-liquids (including nicotine) and the health effects of long-term use.
- Research has found that some e-liquids sold as “nicotine-free” have contained nicotine.
- The Department of Health provides information relating to the health impacts of smoking e-cigarettes.
Are e-cigarettes legal in WA?
- Sales of e-cigarettes containing nicotine are not legal anywhere in Australia.
- It is possible to possess e-cigarettes containing nicotine in Western Australia when this is prescribed by an authorised health practitioner.
- In WA, managers of public places may choose to prohibit e-cigarettes when smoking is prohibited.
- The Therapeutic Goods Association offers information on nicotine vaping products.
- The Department of Health offers general information about e-cigarettes.
Use of e-cigarettes by young people
- Research from 2017, revealed 14 per cent of secondary students aged 12 to 17 years in Australia had used e-cigarettes.
- Of these students, 48 per cent had never smoked a tobacco cigarette before their first vape.
- Around 25 per cent of these students who had vaped before ever smoking, reported later trying tobacco cigarettes.
What schools can do about e-cigarette use
- Schools can address e-cigarettes through their occupational safety and health procedures.
- The Department of Education’s Standards for Maintaining a Smoke-free Workplace addresses e-cigarettes in the same way it does tobacco to provide a smoke-free environment for staff, students and visitors.
- Schools can access professional learning, consultancy, as well as teaching and learning resources from the Department to assist with implementing a whole school approach to alcohol and other drugs education which includes:
- developing effective whole-school drug education plans;
- delivery of prevention education relating to alcohol and other drugs (including vaping);
- providing early intervention to support young people with issues related to alcohol and other drug use (including vaping); and
- engaging with parents about alcohol and other drugs.
Resources for school staff
Challenges and Choices: A Resilience Approach to Drug Education is a resource for those teaching secondary students. This Year 8 resource offers information about smoking. For the full resource, visit Challenges and Choices.
Challenges and Choices: A Resilience Approach to Drug Education is a resource for those teaching secondary students. This Year 9 resource offers information about smoking. For the full resource, visit Challenges and Choices.
The Cancer Council website explains what e-cigarettes are, including the short and long term health effects.
This Alcohol and Drug Foundation website summarises the facts about e-cigarettes.