Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are battery operated devices that heat a liquid (or e-liquid) to produce a vapour to inhale. Using an e-cigarette is sometimes called 'vaping'.
E-liquid contains a range of chemicals or flavours, and often contains nicotine. E-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine are prescription
E-cigarettes come in many shapes and sizes and can be made to look like everyday items including highlighters, pens or USB memory sticks. Vapour from e-cigarettes does not usually have a strong odour but they may have a sweet smell depending on the flavour.
In 2019, the
NSW Population Health Survey found that:
teenage vaping from 20171 showed that:
E-cigarettes can contain high levels of nicotine. Adolescence is a critical period for brain development and exposure to nicotine can have long-term health consequences, impacting memory, attention and learning2. E-cigarettes are often labelled incorrectly and can contain nicotine, even when they claim not to.
Nicotine is highly addictive and research suggests that young people can become more easily addicted to nicotine than adults.3 Research also indicates that young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to go on to use regular cigarettes.4
E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine are still not safe and can have negative, long-lasting health outcomes for young people.4 Vapours can contain the following: cancer-causing agents,
heavy metals, and very fine particles that can cause adverse health effects.5
Although e-cigarette packaging can list some ingredients, it may not include all chemicals in the vapour and researchers have found that toxic metals from e-cigarettes may be released into the vapour when inhaled.6
E-cigarettes are often available in different flavours which can be appealing to young people. While some chemicals in e-liquid are also used in food production and are generally considered safe when eaten, this does not mean they are safe when they are inhaled directly into the lungs.5
Just like tobacco products, selling any e-cigarette or e-cigarette accessories to people under 18 years of age is illegal in NSW, regardless of whether the product contains nicotine or not.
If you suspect someone is selling e-cigarettes to minors, you can report it to NSW Health by completing the
online reporting form or call the Tobacco Information Line on 1800 357 412.
There are ways you can help protect your children from e-cigarettes:
Too much nicotine from e-cigarettes can cause nicotine poisoning. If you think someone has been poisoned by liquid nicotine, please call the Poisons Centre on 13 11 26 immediately or 000 if it is an emergency. For more information see NSW Poisons Information Centre