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Parent influence crucial in tackling teen vaping

Parents a secret weapon in tackling teen vaping, new research shows

22 Feb 2024
Media Release 5 min read
Mother and daughter walk along a coastline
The Behaviour Change Collaborative

A comprehensive, Australian-first research project which aims to deeply understand teenagers’ experiences with vaping has revealed that parents hold more power and influence in tackling vaping than they might realise.

The Influencing Gen Vape study, a partnership between health promotion foundation VicHealth and The Behaviour Change Collaborative, involved surveys and in-depth conversations with more than 3,500 teenagers across Australia.

The results have been used to create Talking to your teen about vaping, an evidence-informed conversation guide for parents and carers. The guide helps decode a teenager’s motivations, attitudes and behaviours towards vaping, and understand what messages resonate most.  

The detailed Influencing Gen Vape insights will also be used to create resources to support teachers, health professionals, sporting clubs and local councils to combat vaping in their local communities.


Key insights from Influencing Gen Vape include:

  • A parent’s opinion really matters: Some teens don’t vape because they don’t want to disappoint their parents. It’s important for parents to let them know they think vaping is a harmful decision.
  • Different teenagers have different needs for information, persuasion and support, so a tailored approach is needed. The Talking to your teen about vaping conversation guide helps parents identify which approach will best suit their child.
  • It’s important to reinforce and reward teens’ decision not to vape, as well as encouraging experimenting teens to stop and helping addicted teens to quit.
  • The role of stress: Many teens start vaping and increase how often they vape for mental health reasons – coping with stress, managing their anxiety, helping them to relax. Parents can support them to explore alternative ways to manage these feelings.
  • Focus on susceptible teens: A group of ‘susceptible’ at-risk teenagers were identified. They’re curious about vaping, have plenty of opportunity to share a vape with friends, and many think they might try vaping in the future.

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio said it was a welcome finding from the research to see that teenagers really trust their parents and value their opinions.

“Many parents and carers say they feel powerless when it comes to vaping, which is completely understandable. So, it was interesting and exciting to find that most teenagers, including those who vape, genuinely care what their parents think,” Dr Demaio said.

“This is an untapped superpower we’re encouraging parents to realise and embrace. Having informed discussions with their teenager about vaping might just be enough to deter them from trying vaping or help them take the first step towards quitting.”

Dr Sandro Demaio
VicHealth CEO

The Behaviour Change Collaborative’s Founder and Managing Director, Luke van der Beeke, said: “It’s important to not just think of young people as either ‘vapers’ or ‘non-vapers’ – our research shows that it’s more nuanced than that, so our approach to addressing the issue needs to be more nuanced too.

“For example, the teenager who is curious but hasn’t tried vaping needs a different conversation and different information to the teen who is experimenting or the one who is addicted.

“We’re pleased to be working in partnership with VicHealth to develop evidence-informed resources and tools that can be used to make a difference in the lives of teens.”

Luke van der Beeke
Behaviour Change Collaborative’s Founder and Managing Director

The Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas said parents’ concerns about vaping are justified and action is being taken to address it.

“Like parents, the Allan Labor Government is extremely concerned about the dangers of vaping – which is why we are working with the Commonwealth and other states and territories to implement some of the strictest vaping restrictions in the world, helping to keep Victorian kids safer.”

Mary-Anne Thomas
Victorian Minister for Health

Quit Victoria Director Rachael Andersen said anyone wanting support with vaping can access Quitline.

“We never want parents or teenagers to feel alone in tackling vaping. Our Quitline counsellors are ready to listen and offer advice without judgement on what you can do as a parent, carer, teacher, school nurse or of course a young person dealing with vaping.

“Quitline counsellors provide anonymous, confidential, and free support via phone, webchat, WhatsApp or Facebook messenger. Our team is here to help.”

Rachael Andersen
Quit Victoria Director

Contact Quitline


Call 13 7848 Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm or text 'call back' to 0482 090 634. Alternatively, start a Webchat, message Quit on Facebook Messenger: @quitvic or WhatsApp: +61 385 832 920. You can also Request a call back via the Quit website. 

To learn more about vaping, visit the Get the Facts on Vaping website:


About the study


Influencing Gen Vape: Unveiling insights into segments of teen vaping categorises young people into distinct segments, decoding their motivations, attitudes and behaviours towards vaping. 

As part of the research, online surveys and in-depth conversations were held with 3,699 teenagers 12-18 years from across Australia between July – September 2023.

This study gives insights into how to craft health promotion interventions and messaging that will positively influence teens’ attitudes and behaviours towards vaping.


Note to editor


The following people are available for interview, in addition to the spokespeople quoted above:

  • The Behaviour Change Collaborative Director, Behavioural Insight, Donna van Bueren (research co-lead) and parent of 2 teenagers
  • Mount Martha mother Edwina and her daughter Lola, 11 – they can speak about the vaping content Lola sees on social media and the conversations they’ve had about vaping. 
  • Dr Lexi Frydenberg, a Melbourne parent of 3 teenagers and paediatrician
  • Dr Felicia Koh, a Melbourne high school doctor and parent of 3 kids (2 in primary school).


Media contacts

  • Shannon Crane, VicHealth PR Lead: 0432 157 270, [email protected]
  • Sean Munaweera, VicHealth External Communications Coordinator: 0413 349 668, [email protected]
  • Christie van der Beeke, Director of Communications and Impact, The Behaviour Change Collaborative (based in WA): 0423 673 664, [email protected]

Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
VicHealth acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land. We pay our respects to all Elders past, present and future.
This website may contain images, names and voices of deceased people.

VicHealth acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.