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Cancer Council warns of the “rotten truth” behind vaping

Holly PrenticeSouth Western Times
Stills from the new Clear the Air campaign aim to highlight the rotten chemicals inhaled in vapes and e-cigarettes.
Camera IconStills from the new Clear the Air campaign aim to highlight the rotten chemicals inhaled in vapes and e-cigarettes. Credit: Cancer Council WA

Cancer Council WA has launched the new Clear the Air campaign in a bid to prevent youths from taking up vaping as the rate of young people using tobacco has risen for the first time in decades.

The Cancer Council revealed national data that showed in 2020, 2 per cent of 14-17-year-olds were vaping.

In 2022, that number skyrocketed to 12 per cent.

21 per cent of young people aged 18-24 in 2022 have vaped, a generation that nearly wiped out cigarette smoking after decades of education on the harms of tobacco.

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Schools across the South West are alarmed and overwhelmed at vape use in classrooms, with teachers in a public forum last month urging for more help to educate students on the harm they’re doing and ways they can get help.

School nurses are alarmed at the number of children being treated with what is clearly a nicotine addiction, with teachers saying students can’t sit a full hour in class without needing to take a break to vape.

Cancer Council WA CEO Ashley Reid said the increase in vaping rates in Australia could undo the decades of work to eliminate tobacco use in young people.

“The increase is particularly concerning given that people who have never smoked and start vaping are three times more likely to take up smoking in the future,” Mr Reid said.

“Already, for the first time in decades, we are seeing an uptake in the rates of young people using tobacco.”

The dangers of vaping have already come to light, with WA Country Health Services stating that a regular vape contains the same amount of nicotine as three packs of cigarettes.

Another study from the University of Michigan stated that vaping is worse for oral health than cigarettes, with damage that would take five years to develop in a regular smoker taking just six months to appear in someone who vapes.

Stills from the add campaign intend to educate young people on how “rotten” the substances they are inhaling are, including images of cockroaches and a cadaver to show that many of the unregulated chemicals found in vapes can be found in weed-killer, rat poison and formaldehyde, the chemical used to embalm bodies.

Mr Reid said the campaign was developed after hearing how many young people were ignorant to the chemicals they’re inhaling.

“Many of the young people we spoke to about vaping were shocked to hear there are more than 240 chemicals in vapes, that a single vape can contain as much nicotine as three packs of cigarettes, and that too much nicotine can lead to serious health problems like nausea, vomiting and even seizures,” he said.

The campaign features digital content across social media platforms as well as an interactive website informing people of the dangers and a helpline to quit smoking.

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