Commonly asked questions about e-cigarettes and vaping, and references to data sources used on this website.
E-cigarettes ('vapes') contain chemicals such as nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerine, and flavourings.
E-cigarettes also contain many chemicals considered to be hazardous. These include formaldehyde, acetaldehyde and acrolein, which are known causes of cancer. Some chemicals in e-cigarette aerosols can cause DNA damage.
The long-term effects of vaping are unknown, therefore the safety of vaping cannot be guaranteed.
Talk to them about e-cigarettes early on… Just as you might talk to young people about alcohol and other drugs, or keeping safe on the internet, it’s a good idea to include e-cigarettes as part of that conversation. Ask your child to research e-cigarettes together as you both may not know a lot about e-cigarettes. There’s lots of useful information on this site and links to other resources.
If you are worried that your child is vaping, your first impulse may be to tell them all the risks or to punish them. Instead take a deep breath and plan how to communicate. Be curious – “What do you think about vaping?”. If they tell you they have tried it, thank them for telling you and ask about their experience – “How did you find it?”
Aim to keep the conversations positive and try not to judge or lecture them.
Share how you feel in a simple open way about the behaviour – “When you vape, I worry about your health. I would like to help you work out what you want to do about vaping.”
If they say they have not tried it, share how you feel in a simple open way. “I know some kids are trying vaping. If you do try it, I would want to know so we can talk about it.” Look out for changes in behaviour for signs of nicotine dependence.
If you’re noticing changes in the young person’s behaviour within a 30-60min window (as they may not been able to vape during this time) it is highly likely they are experiencing nicotine withdrawals.
The labels on most vapes don't necessarily accurately describe what’s in them. Several studies have found that over 80% of e-cigarette labels that say they don’t contain nicotine do, in fact, contain nicotine. It is reasonable to assume that anyone finding themselves addicted to vaping is inhaling nicotine.
People can access one-on-one private telephone counselling through Quitline. Quitline counsellors can talk with them about their experiences and offer guidance and support.
There are many ways to contact Quitline:
Your GP can also provide invaluable support tailored to the individual. It’s worth also visiting the Resources page on this website to read up about information on e-cigarettes.
Quitline can talk with you about your concerns, provide advice on what you can do as a parent or carer, and guide you on how you can start a conversation with your teen.
There are many ways to contact Quitline:
You can also visit our ‘Start the conversation’ section of this site for more information.
Continue with calm conversations using open communication techniques and asking curious questions. Try to understand that it may be difficult for the young person addicted to vaping talk about their dependency on nicotine. It may help to regularly suggest they speak with Quitline counsellors who understand the challenges with stopping vaping. You could also chat to your GP or consult other Resources on this website.
See the new resource ‘Seeing Through the Haze’, designed for use in schools to build health literacies, prevent vaping uptake and maintain low smoking prevalence among young people.
The dependency on e-cigarettes (especially nicotine) can be very powerful. Not having an e-cigarette can be stressful and can lead to anxiety. Nicotine can amplify stress and anxiety as well as increase symptoms of depression. Support is available through Quitline to stop. Call 13 7848 or visit quit.org.au
It took many decades of evidence-based research to understand the full extent of the health harms of smoking cigarettes. Research into vaping and e-cigarettes is still emerging. We do know that over 200 chemicals have been found in e-cigarette liquids. Many of these are hazardous, including those found in weed killer, bug spray and even paint thinner.
A person who vapes regularly may inhale these chemicals into their lungs many times a day, every day, for many years. The long-term effects of exposure to these chemicals in this way are not yet known. The only thing your lungs should be breathing in is fresh air.
Vaping can cause seizures, lung injury and facial damage (from exploding vapes). The nicotine in vapes may impair brain development in young people. It’s possible that vaping may worsen mood disorders, reduce concentration and interrupt sleep in those addicted. The long-term effects of vaping won’t be known for many years.
Last updated January 2024