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Cancer Council SA is calling on the Government of South Australia to take stronger action to protect students from e-cigarettes, following the release of a new study from Australian National University (ANU) highlighting young people are most at risk when using these new devices.

The report reconfirms previous analysis that young non-smokers who vape are around three times as likely to take up smoking than non-vapers.

It also shows e-cigarettes cause multiple direct health harms including acute lung injury, poisoning, burns, seizures and increased nicotine addiction.

“We are hearing from more and more schools who are witnessing an increasing trend in vaping and e-cigarette use amongst their students,” said Interim General Manager, Strategy, Engagement & Communications, Kristie Richards.

“Schools want clear information to give to their students and parents about vaping, and direction on how to best manage this risky behaviour.

“We have identified the need for further education on the dangers of e-cigarettes for students and parents, and urge the Department of Education to incorporate this into the curriculum, and provide clear direction for schools when addressing vaping in their smoke-free policy,” said Ms Richards.

“With many reports of students being suspended for vaping at school, it is clear the government needs to take more action to protect both their health and their education.

“It is an offence to supply or sell e-cigarettes to any person under the age of 18 years and to possess liquid nicotine or vaping products without a valid medical prescription.

“The issues we are seeing among young people around vaping will only get worse unless they are addressed at the school level,” concluded Ms Richards.

Interviews can be arranged on request by contacting Natasha Baugh on 0400 855 244 or emailing

Notes to editor:

The new ANU report strengthens the case for enforcing laws designed to protect young Australians from e-cigarettes harms.

The ANU report is unique in its scope, rigour and timeliness, searching more than 6,500 studies on all the health effects of e-cigarettes, critically appraising the literature and ranking the strength of evidence for the findings on each health impact.

Key findings which should prompt governments to enforce their laws designed to protect young people from e-cigarettes include:

  • E-cigarette use triples the risk of smoking uptake in never-smokers and non-smokers.
  • Most e-cigarette users are young people.
  • Most e-cigarette use is not for the purposes of quitting smoking.
  • Most e-cigarette uses vape and smoke in tandem.
  • E-cigarette use by non-smokers results in dependence on e-cigarettes.
  • Flavours attract adolescents to e-cigarettes.

The findings above are based on evidence systematically ranked as “conclusive”, “strong” or “substantial”. There was no evidence supporting a health benefit from e-cigarettes that met these thresholds.