The Douchiest Way to Die
Peer pressure and social influence have been affecting teenagers since the dawn of time, and while many believe they are immune or unaffected, this is simply not true. Despite non-prescription vapes being outlawed in Australia, you can’t walk into a public bathroom without being attacked by the scent of “Peach Guava Watermelon Passionfruit Ice”, or some other word salad of various fruits. The disposable vape epidemic is beginning to get out of hand, and many are wondering; is my child vaping? If your child is friends with even one person that vapes, the likely answer is yes.
While I dislike generalization, it begins to seem justified when I haven’t met a single teenager in the past year that doesn’t vape. Vapes used to be seen as an alternative to cigarettes, a way to wean off nicotine instead of going cold turkey. Now, disposable vapes are more commonly purchased by teenagers than cigarettes.
In October 2021, the Australian government fully outlawed the importation and sale of non-prescription vapes, however, this is simply not enough. Vapes are now so common, they can be purchased at convenience stores much like cigarettes. The average price for a pack of cigarettes in Australia is $45, just over double the price of a 2000 puff disposable vape that lasts about the same amount of time.
As well as the effect vaping has on social status and physical health, disposable vapes pose a threat to our environment. The head of Clean Up Australia has said “the disposing of vapes is a new and serious environmental issue”, with volunteers discovering littered vapes in worrying and increasing amounts. While most vapes have clear instructions on how to safely dispose on the packaging, this may not be enough to combat against the littering of vapes across Australia.
Most teenagers using vapes are uneducated on the long-term risks that vaping can cause, such as lung cancer, nicotine addiction, mood disorders and a dramatic decline in impulse control. “Nic sick” is a colloquial term widely used by teenagers that vape frequently to refer to a nicotine overdose. While nicotine overdoses are incredibly rare for cigarette smokers, people who use vapes are at a higher risk of these overdoses due to the frequency of use. In most situations, those afflicted will experience nausea, vomiting, intense dizziness, rapid heartbeat and a severe headache for 1-3 hours. In extreme cases, teenagers have been rushed to hospital after prolonged nausea.
A common reason someone may start vaping is because of the nicotine rush, colloquially known as headspins, headrush or nic buzz. Due to the nicotine content and the speed at which nicotine from vapes travels through the bloodstream, this rush hits the brain harder and faster than it would from a cigarette. This feeling is heavily addictive and is a leading cause of nicotine overdoses.
Nicotine has been known to cause loss of appetite, meaning the demographic of teenagers who vape frequently has a minor overlap with the demographic of teenagers who suffer from eating disorders.
All in all, there is no medical benefit to smoking or vaping. If you plan on beginning vaping to wean off cigarettes, beware of the high rate of addiction in vape users.