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The impact on young people 

8 Sep 2023
News 5 min read
Icon of a person sitting in a bean bag, next to a window, on their laptop.

Electronic cigarettes (also known as e-cigarettes or vapes) are introducing a whole new generation of young people to nicotine

The vaping industry, backed by big tobacco, are deliberately targeting our kids with these products which are loaded with toxic chemicals,  despite knowing they are harmful and highly addictive. 

“I started vaping because all my friends were doing it and it tasted good. So I thought, ‘why not?’.  

After a night out vaping my throat would hurt and I’d be coughing all day. 

If vapes were hard to get I wouldn’t have bothered. But they’re so easy to get” 

Year 12 student
3 young people standing next to a fence and talking to each other


of Australians vape

A national sample surveyed Australians aged between 15–30 years and found that almost half reported being either current users (14%) or having used e-cigarettes in the past (33%). 

Two young people with skateboards

But only

1 in 3

understand what's in them

Our National E-Cigarette Awareness and Attitudes Survey revealed that only 1 in 3 young people and parents understand what's in an e-cigarette.

E-cigarettes can contain up to 200 dangerous chemicals, such as poisons found in weed killer and paint stripper, that are inhaled deep into the lungs. 

4 steps to starting a conversation about vaping with young people

  • 1. Listen, don’t lecture

    When it comes to talking to children and young people about vaping, approach the conversation calmly. Try to listen, ask open questions and resist the urge to lecture or judge. Approach in an informal way, in a casual environment, such as when watching tv together, driving or shopping.

  • 2. Get the facts

    Make sure you know the facts before talking to your kids about vaping. That way you can have a constructive, informed conversation. Think about how you want to phrase questions and anticipate your response to what your teen might say. As well as the information on this page, Quit and VicHealth have created an online hub with vaping information for parents and carers of young people. Visit the Get the facts on vaping website  to learn more about e-cigarettes and discussing the risks of vaping with young people. 

  • 3. Be real, be respectful

    It’s important not to exaggerate statements and to be honest with your teen. Focus on your care and concern for their health, and stick to the evidence. 

    It may be hard, but it’s important to respect their privacy and avoid pushing areas of the conversation they are not comfortable discussing. 

    Being genuine and ‘real’ is crucial to building trust and creating a safe environment for your teen to talk openly. 

  • 4. Support quitting

    It’s important to recognise that if your child has started vaping they may already have developed a dependence. This makes quitting important, but hard. They will need all the support they can get.    

    You may try reaching out to other parents of teenagers for support and advice.  

    You can also call Quitline (13 7848) for free advice. Quitline counsellors can answer any questions you may have about e-cigarettes and can help you think of ways to approach the conversation. 

    • If your teenager or young person wants help to quit vaping, they can have a confidential, live chat with a Quitline counsellor at
    • If you’re a parent or carer of a young person, visit the Get the facts on vaping website  from Quit and VicHealth to learn more about e-cigarettes and discussing vaping with young people. 
A photo of hands holding a phone. The phone screen shows an image of a person vaping on social media, looking glamorous.

Head to the research

Research and publications
6 min read
15 Sep 2023

A group of students created their own anti-vaping campaign - find out what they have to say...

  • More statistics

    • Around 2 in 3 (64%) young people were concerned about the impact of vaping on the mental health of their friends and peers 
    • Almost 2 in 3 (63%) young people said they know someone who is dependent on vaping
    • Just over 1 in 3 (38%) young people know where to seek support for vaping
    • Just 1 in 3 young people understand the toxic chemicals found in e-cigarettes.  
  • How vapes are being marketed to young people?

    Sacrificing children for profits

    The dangers of e-cigarettes are very scary and real – multinational tobacco and vaping companies are using sneaky digital marketing tactics to directly target teenagers and young people through social media to drive sales. And it’s our children who suffer as a result. 

    Most young people who use e-cigarettes have never used traditional cigarettes. But we also know young people who vape are three times as likely to go on to use traditional cigarettes


    What marketing tactics are big tobacco and vaping companies using on our kids?

    The toxic fumes from e-cigarettes are dangerous and don’t belong in our lungs.

    The vaping and tobacco industry is using every trick in the book to hook a new generation of Australians on these highly addictive products, such as: 

    • Product design: Producing e-cigarettes with sweet flavours, such as cola ice and candy floss, and creating devices that are brightly coloured and with discrete packaging, designed in ways that appeal to young people. 
    • Marketing: Using social media extensively to market and sell vaping products to young people, with vape challenges promoted across TikTok and YouTube. This content is often sponsored by tobacco and e-cigarette companies and endorsed by influencers with large social media followings. 
    • Labelling: Mislabeling nicotine e-cigarettes as ‘non-nicotine’ so they are easily available at convenience stores and online without a doctor’s prescription. 
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.