A leading health professional has warned of the potentially fatal effects of vaping, with primary school children picking up the addiction.
It comes after some Victorian schools have installed sensors to stop students from smoking e-cigarettes.
Paediatrician at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Doctor Anthea Rhodes, told 3AW on Monday vaping is a growing problem among kids.
“We saw it really starting to kick off just before Covid and the pandemic,” Dr Rhodes said.
“Now that school’s back and the community’s opened, we’ve really seen vaping unfortunately take off, with children as young as primary school age vaping at school and presumably potentially at home.”
Dr Rhodes said they’re learning more about the very “serious” and “real” effects of vaping all the time, which can potentially cause fatal respiratory issues.
“There’s a condition called EVALI, which stands for e-cigarette and vaping associated lung injury. This has now been responsible for dozens of deaths worldwide and many, many more hospitalisations and periods of sickness in teenagers and young adults,” she said.
“That’s to do with the fact that the vape liquid contains a whole heap of different additives, toxins, chemicals that are then heated by that device into a vapour and inhaled. This sort of stuff is not safe for lungs.”
The habit can also have a severe impact on developing brains.
“Nicotine doses, which can be very, very high in these products, can be really toxic to the developing brains of young people and set them up for a lifetime of addiction,” Dr Rhodes said.
But part of the problem is e-cigarettes are “much more affordable” than traditional cigarettes and tobacco, and are not subject to the same strict rules and regulations.
“When it comes to vaping products, we’re really still lacking in terms of regulations,” Dr Rhodes said.
“They (e-cigarettes) can be bought mostly online, which is commonly the place where kids are getting a hold of them, and then they’re onsold through the schoolyard.
“There’s also the issue that they’re really marketed to teenagers and even younger children with their packaging, flavouring – even the actual design.”
Dr Rhodes said multi-level government regulation is needed, while she also encouraged parents, grandparents and teachers to talk about vaping with their kids.
Hamish Spence – The Australian – 2022-03-29.