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THE CONVERSATION: Vaping and e-cigarettes are glamourised on social media, putting young people in harm’s way

Authored by Associate Professor Jonine Jancey, Curtin University.


Having read the excellent piece by Associate Professor Jonine Jancey published recently in The Conversation about e-cigarettes and vaping, it is becoming increasingly evident that the current practices towards screening for tobacco use are inadequate to capture the new trend in e-cigarette use.

This article serves as a reminder to us, as clinicians, to continue to ensure that we broaden our scope when considering the smoking behaviours of young consumers.

As the article A/Prof Jancey outlines, even though NDHS (2019) statistics suggest that smoking rates are declining, statistics from a recent report by Tobacco in Australia indicate that the use of e-cigarettes is significantly increasing.

Almost 10% of adolescents (14-17 yrs) currently use e-cigarettes (up from 4.6%), and now over 25% of those aged 18-24 are vaping too. This is problematic, because we do not yet know the extent to which e-cigarette consumption is harmful.

Currently there are no good longitudinal studies to show whether the effects of e-cigarettes are any better or worse than regular tobacco smoking. This is despite being touted by some as a safer alternative. Further, there is some data to suggest that e-cigarettes may act as a gateway to regular tobacco or cannabis smoking.

Despite the uncertain health outcomes, e-cigarettes continue to be promoted through social media channels to younger people as a trendy new activity.

Now, more than ever, is it important that questions about the use of e-cigarettes become routine, as part of general assessments of all people (but of young people in particular).

It is also incredibly important that we, as clinicians, researchers and health professionals, continue to focus our attention on identifying and preventing the potential consequences and harms of long-term e-cigarette consumption, and whether or not it may lead to additional problems with other drugs.

We are continuing to build relationships with Primary Health Networks around supporting health professionals in screening and brief intervention, but there is more work to be done. We must continue to work together with PHNs, and collaborate with other health industry stakeholders to build capacity of our clinicians and health professionals.

If you want to know more about the effects of certain drugs, including nicotine visit our Portal  under the ‘training resources’ tab. We will be updating those drug cards soon to reflect some new and emerging psycho-stimulants, as well as new variations of old themes.

You can read the article by A/Prof Jonine Jancey in today’s The Conversation here: