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Vaping quick facts

What are they, why are they dangerous and what you can do about it

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Resources from our partners at Quit 

Quitline (13 7848) and information about quitting:

Quit's Get the facts about vaping website:

Quit's See through the haze campaign about the toxic chemicals in vapes:


Most Googled questions


While our partners at Quit have plenty of excellent resources outlined above, below we've included some answers to frequently Googled questions.

  • What are e-cigarettes (vapes)?

    E-cigarettes, more commonly known as ‘vapes’, are battery operated devices, that use a coil to heat liquid into aerosols.  The ‘cloud’ of fumes emitted from vaping is an aerosol, a fine spray containing toxic and corrosive chemicals that can lodge in the lungs. Using an e-cigarette is commonly called ‘vaping’. 

  • Why are vapes dangerous?

    They contain toxic chemicals

    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.

    Learn more on our page Vaping: the impact on our health.

    They seem to be designed for children

    Currently, e-cigarettes come in an array of colours and flavours. Many of the flavours such as chocolate milk, candy floss and cola ice seem to be designed to target children. Often disguised to look like everyday items (such as pens, lip gloss, USB sticks or hoodie toggles), making them discreet and easy to fit into a pocket undetected. 



    Video descriptive transcript

    • The video shows a number of soft drink cans, with the text 'Which of these cans has a secret? Let's find out.'

    • We then see a vape next to each can, before we see someone open one of the cans the same way you would untwist a jar lid, revealing it is a storage container to hide vapes.

    • We then see the text 'Big Vape is selling products so teens can hide vapes from their parents. This must stop.'

    • The video ends with a call to action to visit 

  • How to talk to your child about vaping


    Click the transcript symbol

    Animated icon of a magnifyign glass on a page

    above to view a full transcript for this video interview with Doug, a parent of teens.



    Vaping conversation guide for parents


    VicHealth in partnership with The Behaviour Change Collaborative has developed a guide that can help you have a meaningful, non-threatening conversation with your teen about vaping.

    Learn more

  • What is vape juice?

    This is a term used to refer to the liquids used in e-cigarettes and other heated tobacco products. They can contain up to 200 toxic chemicals including formaldehyde, nicotine and heavy metals. These chemicals are known to cause cancer and damage our brains – they do not belong in our lungs. 

    Learn more about the chemicals in e-cigarettes in the See through the haze campaign from Quit. 

  • Are smoke-free e-cigarettes safe?

    E-cigarettes, vape pens and other heated tobacco products contain toxic chemicals that don’t belong in our lungs. Vaping is also highly addictive, and often leaves users feeling dependent on e-cigarettes. In Australia it’s illegal to sell nicotine e-cigarettes to someone without a medical prescription – but most vaping products available do, in fact, contain nicotine. E-cigarettes pose a host of health dangers, from asthma attacks, to bronchitis, to inflammation of the lungs and in some cases, even death. It’s illegal to sell any vaping products to people under the age of 18, regardless of whether they contain nicotine.  

    Learn more about the chemicals in e-cigarettes in the See through the haze campaign from Quit. 


    Click the transcript symbol

    Animated icon of a magnifyign glass on a page

    above to view a full transcript for this video.


  • Are nicotine-free vapes safe?

    Laboratory testing has shown that most e-cigarettes available in Australia do in fact contain nicotine, even those that say they don’t. Apart from when they are prescribed by a doctor, e-cigarettes are unregulated, which means there are no minimum product safety standards and there are no consequences for a manufacturer who doesn’t label their product accurately. E-cigarettes have been found to include up to 200 toxic chemicals, such as those found in paint stripper and weed killer. 

    In early May 2023, the Australian Government announced groundbreaking reforms to protect future generations from the harms created by Big Tobacco and the vaping industry. This includes Introducing minimum quality standards on certain flavours, colours and ingredients and reducing allowable nicotine content in vaping products.

    Learn more about the chemicals in e-cigarettes in the See through the haze campaign from Quit. 

  • Is the vapour created by e-cigarettes safe?

    No. The e-cigarette industry calls the emissions from their product ‘vapour’ to give the impression it is just steam. But the emissions from e-cigarettes are actually an aerosol that contains hundreds of toxic particles. When people use e-cigarettes, this fine spray of chemicals enters the body via the lungs, where small particles can get lodged. The liquid inside vaping products can contain up to 200 chemicals, including poisons found in weed killer and paint stripper. Heavy metals found on the inside surface of vapes (including lead, nickel and aluminum) can also shed and lodge deep in the lungs. 

    Learn more about the chemicals in e-cigarettes in the See through the haze campaign from Quit. 

  • Is vaping illegal in Australia?

    The laws in Australia

    • It's illegal to buy and sell a vape or any e-liquid that contains nicotine, unless you have a doctor’s prescription. 
    • It's illegal to sell a vape or a liquid intended to be used in a vape (even if it does not contain nicotine) to a person under 18 years. 

    But big tobacco and big vape companies are skirting current regulations by selling ‘non-nicotine’ vapes (when they do in fact still contain nicotine). 

    Timeline of Australian government action

    Further reform is needed to protect young people.

    See timeline

  • Get help to quit vaping

    Quitline (13 7878) is a free, confidential advice and support service open 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday

    Quitline counsellors are available via phone, live web chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or SMS:

    They also provide:

    • Aboriginal Quitline (13 7848)
    • Translators (call Quitline on 13 7848 and tell them you need an interpreter)
    • Access if you are deaf or have hearing or speech impairment via the National Relay Service:
      • TTY users phone 13 3677 and ask for 13 7848  
      • Speak & Listen users phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 13 7848
      • Internet relay users connect to the National Relay Service then ask for 13 7848 
Artwork by Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022
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Artwork Credit: Dexx (Gunditjmara/Boon Wurrung) ‘Mobs Coming Together’ 2022, acrylic on canvas. Learn more about this artwork.