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What are e-cigarettes and vaping?

E-cigarettes, also known as ‘vapes’, are battery operated devices that work by heating a liquid ('e-liquid' or ‘juice’) until it becomes an aerosol that users inhale.

E-cigarette use (vaping) has many health and safety risks. Vapes contain chemicals that are known causes of cancer and lung damage.

People who vape risk injuries and burns from exploding devices, signs of reduced lung function and harm to unborn babies.

What is a vape?

  • An e-cigarette (commonly called a 'vape') is a battery powered device that heats up a liquid to become an aerosol. This aerosol is a fine spray of chemical particles that is then inhaled deep into the lungs
  • The liquid in most vapes ('vape liquid', 'vape juice' or e-liquid) contains nicotine
  • Vapes can be disposable* or refillable
  • Over 200 different chemicals have been found in e-liquids
  • The act of heating the e-liquid may cause the metals from inside the chamber of the vape to also be inhaled
  • Toxic metals can leach off the solid surface of the vape chamber directly into the liquid. But many of the toxic contaminants may also come from contamination of the chemical ingredients in e-liquids
  • Vapes are promoted online via social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram.

Learn more about what's inside a vape

*Reforms introduced in January 2024 ban the importation of disposable vapes into Australia. Read more about these reforms: FAQs at

Environmental challenge

  • Disposable vapes are almost impossible to discard responsibly. They contain single-use plastics, lithium batteries and metals

  • Many disposable vapes get discarded as litter – you may start to notice these devices around your local area

  • Chemicals from the battery may leech into the soil causing environmental harm

  • While we all know cigarette butt litter is a problem, but vapes represent a new environmental challenge especially when you consider the cheaper devices favoured by many young people are single use.

Icon Lungs

There are many risks associated with vapes including addiction, health harms and other safety risks.

Health and safety risks

Last updated March 2024

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