What are vapes?

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, heat a liquid into a vapour that users inhale. They may seem harmless, but those appealing flavours are designed to suck you in. The truth is vapes contain chemicals and toxins, including those known to cause cancer - they just don’t put it on the pack.

What’s in a vape?

Vapes contain 100s of chemicals like those found in disinfectant, bug spray, weed killer, and other household products. These can include: acetone (generally found in nail polish remover), acrolein (commonly found in weedkiller), and formaldehyde (used in industrial glues and for preserving corpses in hospitals and funeral homes). Most vapes also contain nicotine and did we mention heavy metals, like nickel, tin, and lead? That’s sick! But not in a good way.

How can vapes harm my health?

Vaping causes harm, including lung disease, poisoning, seizures, and burns. It can also harm your brain and cardiovascular health, including blood pressure, heart rate, and lung function. The immediate effects of vaping may include nausea, vomiting, mouth and airway irritation, chest pain, and palpitations. The cough, sore throat, dizziness, headaches or nausea could be a sign vaping is already doing you damage.

Vapes contain chemicals and toxins, including those that are known to cause cancer. They can also contain heavy metals, and very fine particles that can harm your health. Even vapes that don’t contain nicotine (although most do) aren’t safe and can have negative, life-long impacts, especially on growing brains and bodies.

There’s evidence that adolescents may become addicted to nicotine quicker, and at lower or less regular levels of consumption, than adults. Adolescence is an important time for brain development, and exposure to nicotine can have long-term health consequences, impacting memory, attention, and learning.

Why are vapes so addictive?

Even though they don't say it, most vapes contain high levels of nicotine, like cigarettes, which you can become addicted to very quickly and find it difficult to stop vaping.

The symptoms of nicotine addiction from vapes are the same as cigarettes, and can make you feel irritable, anxious and experience intense cravings to vape. You may also experience a lack of concentration when you can't vape and have trouble sleeping.

While you might not think it, research shows you're three times as likely to start smoking if you vape.

How do I say no to a vape?

If you don’t want to vape, you’re not alone. When someone offers you a vape, it’s good to have a reason ready to deal with pressure from friends and tell them why you don’t want to get sucked in. Here are a few: 

  • “Nah – nicotine gives me a headache” 
  • “I don’t want to get hooked like a smoker”
  • “I’m trying out for the soccer team, and I don’t want vaping to ruin my chances” 

Maybe make a joke, or say “no thanks” plainly and firmly. Whatever works, just be prepared.

How do I quit vaping?

Most vapes contain nicotine, which makes them highly addictive like cigarettes and can make quitting difficult. If you think you may be addicted or know someone else at risk, support is available to help you get off vapes.

You can talk to your GP or local youth health service for advice and support. Or you can call the Quitline on 13 7848. Our friendly Counsellors understand nicotine addiction and can provide advice, tips, and support to help you quit.

You can also call the Aboriginal Quitline on 13 7848 to speak to an Aboriginal Counsellor and receive confidential advice and support to help you live vape free.

If English isn’t your first language, Quitline also has Counsellors who speak Arabic, Cantonese, Mandarin, and Vietnamese. You can also use the Telephone Interpreter Service (TIS) for other languages.