Vaping And Teenage Girls – Jennifer Oaten

Vaping is the act of inhaling and exhaling aerosols produced by an e-cigarette or similar battery-powered device. E-cigarettes are currently the most commonly used tobacco product used by young people. As parents, it is important to understand these products, be aware of the risks, and have an open conversation with your daughters.

At Santa Maria College, we have zero tolerance for vaping.  When having conversations with your daughter, make sure she understands the risks concerning health and losing her place at our school and ensure that she understands that she is contributing to the enormous wealth, power, and influence of the international tobacco industry by vaping. These companies have no regard for the wellbeing of our children, and we want to encourage our students to use their social conscience to assist them in making good choices.

"Young people who vape nicotine are exposed to toxic chemicals that can harm adolescent brain development and may lead to dependence."

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation in their article Vaping in Australia, in Australia, around 14% of 12 to 17-year-olds have tried an e-cigarette. About 32% of these students have used one in the past month. 

Marlboro has invested 13 billion dollars in JUUL, a vaping product with flavours that include watermelon, mango, and peach.  Manufacturers of these products target adolescents, knowing that this is the period of greatest experimentation and influence. Each pod contains nicotine which may be addictive to young people, leading to years of income for tobacco companies.

Puff Bars, which also contain high nicotine levels, are also made with child-friendly flavours, including strawberry, café latte, banana ice, watermelon, and tangerine. Again this company is targeting an adolescent audience.

In 2019, the CEO of Philip Morris, a powerful tobacco company, earned an annual income of over $US16 million. Since young people tend not to smoke and tobacco sales have been declining, vaping has become their new revenue stream. They are promoting vaping as a healthy, sociable alternative. When cigarettes were marketed in the 1940s, tobacco companies hired doctors to endorse them. In the 1950s and 1960s, tobacco companies bought and sponsored TV programs and paid A-list celebrities to appear in the ad campaigns. Not dissimilar to tobacco companies today, where they are using young female Instagram influencers to sell vaping products. Social media is playing a massive role in both promoting and supplying e-cigarettes to our young people not only in Australia but all over the world.


It is illegal for individuals to sell or purchase e-liquids that contain nicotine in any form in Australia. However, nicotine-free vaping devices and e-liquids can be legally sold and bought in most states and territories in Australia through online retail stores and tobacco retail outlets. These may not have nicotine but have many other unknown chemicals that can impact health.

How are our students accessing e-cigarettes?

Students who have vaped most commonly reported getting the last e-cigarette they used from friends (63%), siblings (8%) or parents (7%). Around 12% of students reported buying an e-cigarette themselves. (Vaping Australia – Alcohol and Drug Foundation, April 2021)

"In recent years, we have seen an increase in the shops selling enticing non-nicotine e-cigarettes and liquids with thousands of attractive flavours like green apple ice, cinnamon roll and alpha mint. These are purely recreational products that have no place in our market for either kids or adults."

Vaping began as an idea to help smokers quit, but has quickly developed into a multi-billion dollar industry that impacts our young people, so we need to be brave and start the conversation. Look how long it has taken to make changes to the sale of cigarettes, understand the health implications, and change legislation to help reduce cigarette consumption. We can’t wait!

7 points for parents to help tackle vaping

1. Start with information, research the topic and think through what you want to say.

2. View the following video. 

3. Learn vaping terminology by downloading this great factsheet called Vaping Lingo Dictionary by Truth Initiative.

4. Consider some questions you might be asked and how you want to respond.

5. Start with something you saw or read on the news or in a TV show as a chance to bring up the issue.

6. Try asking questions like:

  • What made you want to try?
  • How did it make you feel?
  • Where did you get it from?
  • Will you try it again?

7. Explain the potentially harmful effects and explain your concerns.

If we can educate our young women about the health implications and the tactics used by tobacco companies, we may be able to influence their choices. Let’s work together, the College and parents, to have these conversations.

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