World No Tobacco Day is celebrated every year on 31 May and this year, Marayong resident Rose Lewis, is advocating for more awareness of the dangers of e-cigarettes and vaping to young people.
E-cigarettes, also known as vapes, are battery powered devices which heat up liquid into vapour which is breathed into the lungs. The liquid often contains nicotine and other harmful chemicals not displayed on the packaging.
Rose, a member of WSLHD’s Youth Advisory Committee, said we are all affected by smoking and that it is an important public health priority.
“It felt like a nightmare when I learned that toxic products like nail polish remover and weed killer were the same chemicals used in vapes,” Rose said.
I was 16 when I was first offered a vape and didn’t know what it was, so I said no. Lots of young people say yes but if they knew more about what was inside, they might think again before trying vapes.”
Ngaio Chandler, youth health worker from the Western Area Adolescent Team has received multiple requests for information on vaping from local high schools due to an increase in students who vape.
“It’s concerning to hear that young people who have never smoked a cigarette have started vaping and do not know the effects it can have on their health or that it may contain nicotine,” Ngaio said.
With the release of the ‘Do you know what you’re vaping?’ campaign from NSW Health and in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day, the WSLHD Prevention Education and Research Unit (PERU) is working with Centre for Population Health to run a Youth Voices Vaping poster competition.
All high school students in western Sydney are invited to create poster messages for the competition. Topics can include the effect vaping has on health, on the environment or about the advertising tricks used to target young people to vape.
WSLHD PERU Clinical Professor Smita Shah says it’s important that young people are engaged in conversations about how vaping affects their peers.
“This competition will give students the opportunity to create and share their own messages to inform their peers about the harms of using vapes,” Professor Shah said.
Prizes are available for students with the best entries. Entries close 30 June 2022.