E-cigarettes and vaping
E-cigarettes, also called vapes, are electronic devices designed to deliver liquids in the form of an aerosol into the lungs and are not safe.
The main ingredients in e-cigarettes are the same harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray. It’s just not written on the pack.
There are many different styles of e-cigarettes available. They usually contain nicotine, flavours and other chemicals, and the vape devices are shaped or coloured to appeal to young people. Testing has found that most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, even when the labels do not say that they contain nicotine.
Do you know what you’re vaping?
E-cigarettes and vapes may expose people to chemicals and toxins at levels that have the potential to cause serious health effects, including increased risk of depression and anxiety.
Vaping has already been linked to lung disease and can expose people to:
- the same harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray
- toxins such as formaldehyde and heavy metals
- ultrafine particles that can be inhaled deep into the lungs
- flavouring chemicals such as diacetyl (a chemical linked to serious lung disease)
- the device has been known to explode causing serious burns.
Vaping and young people
The take-up of e-cigarettes by young people in particular is increasing. A survey of 13-to-19-year-olds by South Australia’s Commissioner for Children and Young People (in 2022) found that 2 in 3 young people had tried vaping, with almost 1 in 4 describing themself as a regular vaper.
You can help protect young people by learning about the different types of e-cigarettes and the health risks they incur.
- Many vapes contain nicotine making them very addictive
- The nicotine in 1 vape can be equivalent to 50 cigarettes
- Young people who vape are 3 times as likely to start smoking cigarettes
- Vaping has been linked to serious lung disease
- Vape aerosol is not water vapour
Vaping and schools
Knowing the facts about vaping is part of South Australia’s approach to respond to e-cigarette use in schools. South Australian schools are required to be smoke-free (including vaping).
Schools are further supported through e-cigarette content in curriculum, evidence-based resources, funded external programs, training and support.
Find out more about how the Department for Education manages alcohol, tobacco and other drugs in schools.
Resources and support materials
- Vaping information for parents and carers (PDF 128KB)
- Vaping information for teachers and schools (PDF 130KB)
- Vaping information for children and young people (PDF 635KB)
- Vaping types for teachers (PDF 575KB)
- Vaping types for parents (PDF 604KB)
- Vaping poster for young people — bug spray (PDF 75KB)
- Vaping poster for young people — disinfectant (PDF 77KB)
- Vaping poster for young people — nail polish (PDF 73KB)
- Vaping poster for young people — weed killer (PDF 84KB)
- Vaping poster for young people — all products (PDF 130KB)
- Nicotine vaping products hub — Therapeutic Goods Administration
- Young People and Cigarettes Factsheet - Legal Services Commission of SA
- Parenting SA - Young people, alcohol and drugs - Parent Easy Guide
- Helping young people to quit vaping - Alcohol and Drug Foundation
Need more help or support to quit?
There are a range of services and information available for people with queries, or those who need advice about e-cigarettes, including young people.
- Quitline – 13 78 48 for non-judgmental and confidential advice for the cost of a local call
- Cancer Council website information on e-cigarette products
- Be Smoke Free for information about e-cigarette use in smoking cessation
- Be Smoke Free for advice and tools for quitting smoking
About this information
This information has been adapted from NSW Health for Drug and Alcohol Services South Australia (DASSA) and the SA Department for Education. The campaign and resources are underpinned by evidence. For more information about the evidence for the campaign and toolkit resources read the Vaping evidence summary.