CPR First Aid

Unpacking the Health and Social Impacts of Vaping in Australia

Vaping, or the usage of electronic cigarettes, has grown in popularity in recent years around the world. The trend has not gone unnoticed by many Australians, especially the youth. While many consider vaping a safer alternative to traditional smoking, research has shown that it has significant health and social impacts. 

In this piece, we take a closer look at the effects of vaping on health and society in Australia while also investigating the current state of regulation surrounding this practice in the country.

What is a Vape?

A vape, short for a vaporiser, is a handheld device that heats a liquid, known as e-liquid or vape juice, to produce an aerosol or vapour inhaled by the user. The e-liquid typically contains nicotine, flavourings, and other chemicals. Vapes are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and designs, and have grown in popularity among young people in recent years.

A vape heats e-liquid to make vapour inhaled by users. Contains nicotine, flavors. Popular among young people.

The Emergence of Vaping in Australia

Vaping only became widely popular in Australia in the mid-2010s, with many people turning to e-cigarettes to quit smoking tobacco cigarettes. However, the government quickly cracked down on using e-cigarettes and vaping, citing potential health risks. In 2016, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) made it illegal to sell nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in Australia without a prescription, effectively making it difficult for many people to access vaping products. Despite the restrictions, the vaping industry has continued to grow, with some estimates suggesting that there are around 200,000 vapers in the country.

The Current State

While some states have attempted to regulate vaping, the country has yet to develop comprehensive federal legislation. Despite this, vaping continues to rise, with many individuals purchasing their products online or through other unregulated channels. This has led to concerns about the safety and quality of vaping products in Australia.

Health Impacts of Vaping

What are the short and long-term health effects of vaping, along with potential risks to non-smokers and young individuals? People must be cognisant of the possible health hazards associated with vaping to make informed decisions about their well-being.

Respiratory Problems

Vaping can lead to respiratory problems, such as:

  • coughing
  • wheezing
  • shortness of breath

The chemicals in the vaping liquid can damage the lungs and cause inflammation, leading to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory issues.

Cardiovascular Disease

Vaping can increase heart rate and blood pressure, putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system. This can increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack, and stroke.

Cancer

Vaping has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. The chemicals in the vaping liquid can cause DNA damage, leading to cancerous cell growth.

Oral Health Problems

Using electronic cigarettes may lead to dry mouth, throat and mouth irritation. The heat from the vaping device can also cause gum disease, tooth loss, and oral cancer.

Nicotine Addiction

The vaping liquid often contains nicotine, which is highly addictive. Nicotine addiction can lead to various health problems, including increased heart rate, blood pressure, and anxiety.

Social Impacts of Vaping

The ramifications of vaping on society go beyond its health effects and extend to the impact on social conduct. Vaping is becoming more normalised among young people, as it is often perceived as less harmful than smoking cigarettes. The marketing tactics used by vape companies, such as social media influencers and celebrities, often target young people and can significantly impact their behaviour. Peer influence can also play a role in the spread of vaping culture.

Vaping's societal impact extends beyond health, affecting social conduct. It's normalized among youth, seen as safer than smoking. Marketing, like influencers and celebs, shapes behavior.

Health Minister Rejects E-Cigarette Regulation

Australia’s Health Minister, Mark Butler, has rejected proposals to regulate e-cigarettes like tobacco products, 9NEWS reports. Butler argued that this would “normalise” the use of e-cigarettes, which he claims poses a significant risk to children, citing more than 50 reports of poisoning in children under five in Victoria alone. He further suggested that the push to regulate vapes as cigarettes were part of the tobacco industry’s effort to evade smoking laws and anti-smoking campaigns in Australia. Butler also pointed to recent research linking vaping to an increased likelihood of taking up cigarette smoking, which he believes undermines efforts to reduce smoking rates.

Potential Solutions

There is no easy solution to the issue of vaping, but there are several approaches that could help mitigate its adverse effects. One solution is to increase public awareness of the health risks associated with vaping. This could involve campaigns to educate young people and other vulnerable populations about the dangers of e-cigarettes.

Another solution is to introduce stricter regulations around the marketing and sale of vaping products, such as restrictions on the use of social media influencers and limits on the sale of flavoured e-cigarettes. 

Additionally, there is a need for more research into the long-term health effects of vaping, which could help inform future policy decisions. Finally, offering more support for those who want to quit vaping or smoking could help reduce the number of people who take up vaping to quit traditional cigarettes.

The Bottomline

The increasing popularity of vaping in Australia has brought about a range of health and social impacts that must be solved. Individuals need to understand the potential risks of vaping and make informed decisions about their health. The government must also take action to regulate the sale and marketing of vaping products and explore alternative harm-reduction strategies. Ultimately, a multi-faceted approach will be necessary to address Australia’s vaping epidemic effectively.

CPR First Aid Australia RTO NO. 21903 is an organisation that provides training and education in first aid, CPR, and other emergency response skills. They offer a variety of courses and programs for individuals and workplaces across Australia, intending to improve emergency preparedness and response in the community. 

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