In Warrnambool, children as young as 11 buy vapes as authorities warn of health risks

A Victorian town is seeing a dangerous new trend emerge with children as young as 11 being caught using illegal vapes.

Police and youth workers have confirmed that vape use among Warrnambool teenagers has risen sharply, with many buying e-cigarettes from local shops or on the black market via the internet.

Global research indicates that young people generally believe that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking, even though e-cigarettes still pose significant health risks.

They carry harmful chemicals that affect the user’s lungs and have been linked to a variety of cancers, tumors and chronic health conditions.

A Victorian town is seeing a dangerous new trend emerge with children as young as 11 being caught using illegal vapes. Pictured: An image of a young girl using a vape

In Australia, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to own a vape.

Harriet Rose of the Western Regional Alcohol and Drug Center told the ABC about the ‘vaping crisis’ happening in Warrnambool and how it has received countless notices from schools monitoring pupils using vapes.

“I get a lot of referrals from schools, so kids who were caught vaping at school,” she said.

“It could get out of hand and it could be a big fight if we don’t get there soon.”

Police officer and youth worker Janielle Kaye said several young people were gaining access to vapes by buying them through people they met on the internet before some attempted to resell them on social media apps.

“There seems to be a … black market of people accessing [vapes] then using Snapchat and other apps to advertise vape availability.

Kaye suggests that this method of buying vapes creates “broader concerns” as young people are “exposed to criminal elements”.

The police officer also said that many students buy e-cigarettes from friends, family members and even some local business owners who sell them irresponsibly.

Global research indicates that young people generally believe that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking, even though <a class=e-cigarettes still pose significant health risks. Pictured: Stock image of vapes” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Global research indicates that young people generally believe that vaping is a healthier alternative to smoking, even though e-cigarettes still pose significant health risks. Pictured: Stock image of vapes

A new study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday found that more than one in five young adults have tried vaping.  Pictured: An image of a young woman using a vape

A new study released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday found that more than one in five young adults have tried vaping. Pictured: An image of a young woman using a vape

A new study released on Monday found that more than one in five young adults have tried vaping.

The data, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on Monday, revealed that 21.7% of people aged 18-24 had tried vaping, while 83.3% of the cohort had never smoked cigarettes and were the group most likely to have never smoked tobacco.

The figures, included as part of the bureau’s 2020/21 National Health Survey, were the first time the annual report featured data on e-cigarettes.

Overall, nearly one in 10 adults said they had used a vaping device at least once, with men more likely to use e-cigarettes than women.

E-cigarette use was more common among 18- to 24-year-olds than any other demographic group surveyed.

Nearly one in 12 people aged 15 to 17 have used a vaping device at least once, according to a new national survey.  Pictured: Stock image of <a class=electronic cigarettes” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Nearly one in 12 people aged 15 to 17 have used a vaping device at least once, according to a new national survey. Pictured: Stock image of electronic cigarettes

Those under 45 were three times more likely than those over 45 to have used an e-cigarette.

Nearly one in 12 people aged 15 to 17 have used a vaping device at least once.

The national survey also found that more than three-quarters of all Australians had a long-term health condition in 2020/21.

Almost half of respondents also reported at least one chronic health condition.

The bureau’s director of health statistics, Robert Long, said the survey offered key insights into health conditions after Covid-19.

He said mental and behavioral disorders (20.1%), back problems (15.7%) and arthritis (12.5%) were the most commonly reported chronic conditions.

The alarming statistics come despite a study showing that vapes can contain paint, disinfectant, crude oil and even a drug used to kill fish.  Pictured: An image of a young girl vaping

The alarming statistics come despite a study showing that vapes can contain paint, disinfectant, crude oil and even a drug used to kill fish. Pictured: An image of a young girl vaping

The alarming statistics come despite a study showing that vapes can contain paint, disinfectant, crude oil and even a drug used to kill fish.

The findings come from a survey of the contents of 50 over-the-counter vapes conducted by Curtin University.

More than half of the vapes tested contained chemicals toxic to humans upon repeated inhalation and some were linked to lung cancer.

The study found that the liquids used in 50 over-the-counter vapes included eugenol – which is used to euthanize fish – petroleum, household disinfectants, cosmetics and paint.

Many have “totally unknown effects on respiratory health.”

The sale of nicotine-based e-cigarettes was banned in all Australian states from October 1 last year, with people only able to buy the vapes with a doctor’s prescription.

But vape sellers circumvent the ban by selling the disposable devices on the black market.

One in three vapes sold in Australia contain illegal amounts of banned chemicals and can cause dangerous illnesses including ‘popcorn lung’

Banned levels of ingredients linked to harmful lung diseases such as ‘popcorn lung’ have been found in almost a third of vapes sold in Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration found that 31% of the 214 electronic cigarettes analyzed had chemical concentrations above the legal limit.

These substances included the additives vitamin E and diacetyl acetate, which are widely linked to a rare disease called bronchiolitis obliterans which damages the small airways in the lungs.

The disease is nicknamed “popcorn lung” because diacetyl was once added to microwave popcorn as a food coloring.

Pictured is an x-ray showing the effects of 'popcorn lung' - which has been widely linked to vaping

Pictured is an x-ray showing the effects of ‘popcorn lung’ – which has been widely linked to vaping

The TGA also found that all 190 nicotine vaping products tested violated new labeling rules designed to warn customers of potential dangers.

A spokesperson for the government body said the banned ingredients were known to cause lung damage in the form of bronchiolitis obliterans and EVALI.

EVALI – which stands for e-cigarette or lung injury associated with the use of vaping products – is believed to be caused by vapes containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance also found in marijuana, and vitamin E acetate.

Federal legislation introduced last October imposed minimum safety standards for nicotine vapes imported from abroad and made warning labels mandatory.

The law also made it illegal to buy nicotine vapes without a prescription.

According to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the new laws aim to reduce the risk of nicotine vaping among young adults, while allowing current smokers access to smoking cessation products.

There are still two ways for prescription holders to obtain nicotine vaping products in Australia; from a pharmacy or imported from foreign websites.

Prescriptions can only be written by one of the 80 authorized prescribers or by a licensed doctor under the TGA’s Special Access Scheme B.

An authorized prescriber of nicotine vaping products must be a general practitioner registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Despite disapproval from vaping advocates, the new laws are backed by the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH).

“ACOSH strongly supports any measure that will effectively stem the flow of illegal disposable e-cigarettes in Australia which are being used by increasing numbers of children and adolescents,” Chief Executive Maurice Swanson said.

“The use of electronic cigarettes among children and adolescents is of growing concern.”

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