Students in Queensland schools smoke and sell highly addictive, flavored and disposable e-cigarettes called “puff bars”, say concerned parents and teachers.
- Parents and teachers concerned about the prevalence of puff bars among students
- It is illegal to sell a small nicotine electronic cigarette in Australia
- Lung Foundation Australia claims that nicotine e-cigarettes are
“bad for anyone’s lungs” and may impact learning, memory and impulse control
Possession of nicotine e-cigarettes is illegal without a prescription in all states and territories except South Australia.
Puff Bars Australia sells disposable e-cigarettes online in a range of colors – some of which light up when used – and flavors such as pink lemonade, tobacco and strawberry.
The devices contain 5 percent, or 50 milligrams, of nicotine salt, which some say equates to about two and a half packs of cigarettes.
‘A two minute high’
A 14 year old student told ABC Radio Brisbane that puff bars have become very popular in her school and have given you a “buzz nic for about 2 minutes”.
“It doesn’t feel good. I remember the first time I did it, I was coughing so hard, but no really it makes you sick, because you’re all shaking and you can’t stand It’s like having a mini-high for two minutes.
“I kind of thought at first, oh, that’s not smoking, I would never touch a cigarette.”
But then the teenager said she realized that e-cigarettes probably hurt just as much.
She felt the flavors were meant to appeal to teenagers and the devices were colorful and pretty and looked like portable chargers.
Meanwhile, a mother told ABC she only found out her daughter was using puff bars when she saw a text message asking if anyone had the device, and realized what it was wrong for. ‘acted after an online search.
“At first I was sad that your child was involved in this, then I understood it because I was a teenager and I understand – and then I was angry,” she said. “I was upset that these existed, that there was flavored nicotine that the kids liked.
The mother said there was not enough education in schools about e-cigarettes and the risks involved.
Coordinated vaping during lessons
A teacher at Gold Coast High School said that between classes, 10-15 students would gather in “every bathroom on campus” to vape, or use their cell phones to arrange vaping in the bathrooms during class. .
She said teachers were “helpless” and called for a ban on phones in schools statewide.
Patricia Schluter, policy officer for the Lung Foundation of Australia, said puff bars were “bad for anyone’s lungs.”
She said that when young people inhaled nicotine – and a range of other chemicals in the aroma – while their brains and bodies were still developing, it could have impacts on learning, memory and pulse control. It could also increase the risk of addiction.
New import restrictions
A statement from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) said that starting in October, it would be illegal to import nicotine e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine for vaping without a prescription.
The statement said it would be difficult to control the purchase of nicotine e-cigarettes through websites hosted abroad.
But “from October 1, the Australian Border Force, in collaboration with the TGA, will have the power to intercept them at the border,” the statement said.
In Australia, around 147,000 people aged 15 to 24 used e-cigarettes in 2109, according to the TGA.
The vaping industry against devices
House of Vape owner Andrew Cameron has said he and the industry are “totally against” the devices.
“It’s not what we think of as vaping or a withdrawal device; these things are fueling a new nicotine addiction in children with excessively high nicotine levels that we totally disagree with,” M said. Cameron.
“About a pack of cigarettes is equivalent to about 22 to 22.5 milligrams of nicotine, so we equate a puff bar equivalent to two and a half packs of cigarettes in nicotine content.
Puff Bars Australia has been contacted for comment but has not responded.