Urgent warning to young vapers like Phoebe Burgess as health experts say highly addictive e-cigarettes cause nasty diseases such as ‘popcorn lung’
The fresh, crisp air of Bowral has taken on a cherry hue in recent months after Phoebe Burgess started smoking e-cigarettes.
The mother of two, 33, was seen clutching a $30 cherry pomegranate-flavoured vape as she stepped out for coffee in Bellevue Hill, Sydney, on Tuesday.
The ex-wife of NRL great Sam Burgess was holding an IGET Bar vape, which contains 3,500 puffs per device, under her iPhone.
IGET Bar vapes are made in China and are illegal in Australia when they contain nicotine. Each device has the capacity for 7ml e-liquid of 50mg nicotine.
While some consider vapes to be a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, they aren’t without their risks.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard launched an anti-vaping campaign back in March, after researched showed an alarming number of teens were picking up the habit.
The fresh, crisp air of Bowral has taken on a cherry hue in recent months after Phoebe Burgess (pictured carrying an IGET vape on Tuesday) started smoking e-cigarettes. While some consider vapes to be a less harmful alternative to cigarettes, they aren’t without their risks
The campaign warned young people of the risks and challenged the idea that vaping is okay just because it’s healthier than smoking cigarettes.
The government and NSW Health are ‘very concerned about the impact of those vapes on young people’s lives, particularly on their lungs’, Mr Hazzard said.
Vaping damages adult lungs and is of greater concern for developing lungs in teenagers and children, he added.
The minister told a parliamentary hearing the thought of kids picking up the habit was ‘atrocious’.
The Get The Facts – Vaping Toolkit targets students aged 14 to 17 and provides resources for teachers, parents and carers to start conversations about the dangers of vaping.
‘We know that amongst many young people, e-cigarettes or vapes have been considered safe and certainly safer than cigarettes,’ NSW Acting Chief Health Officer Marianne Gale said.
Some consider vapes harmless due to the combination of having a sweet or fruity flavour, being in attractive packaging and their ‘vapour’ being perceived as water.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard launched an anti-vaping campaign back in March, after researched showed an alarming number of teens were picking up the habit (stock photo)
‘It’s very important that young people and families understand e-cigarettes are not safe,’ Dr Gale said.
‘Evidence [and] experts tell us now is that these products are not safe and there are a range of health harms that are associated with vaping.’
Vaping in young people can cause acute effects including heart palpitations, chest pain and irritation to the throat and lungs.
Vapes can also contain nicotine and be highly addictive.
Nicotine has severe negative impacts on the developing brain, as well as affecting memory, mood and mental health.
Phoebe (pictured with ex-husband Sam Burgess in 2017) was seen this week holding an IGET Bar vape, which contains 3,500 puffs per device. IGET Bar vapes are made in China and are illegal in Australia when they contain nicotine
A variety of dangerous additives were also found in vapes including nail polish, insect spray and detergents, Dr Gale said.
A person who vapes is three times more likely to become a smoker.
Vaping has exploded in popularity in recent years – particularly among young Australians – as it doesn’t carry the same stigma and price tag as cigarettes.
Chinese-made vapes can be bought for as little as $20 at most convenience stores and tobacconists compared to a packet of cigarettes for $50.
Experts say vaping can be particularly damaging for young people because it damages DNA, promotes tumours and can cause a number of respiratory issues.
One in three vapes sold in Australia contain illegal amounts of banned chemicals and may cause dangerous illnesses including ‘popcorn lung’
Banned levels of ingredients linked to harmful lung diseases such as ‘popcorn lung’ have been found in nearly a third of vapes sold in Australia.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration found 31 per cent of the 214 e-cigarettes it analysed had chemical concentrations that exceeded the legal limit.
Those substances included the additives vitamin E acetate and diacetyl, which is widely linked to a rare condition called bronchiolitis obliterans that damages the small airways in the lungs.
The disease is nicknamed ‘popcorn lung’ because diacetyl used to be added to microwave popcorn as a food colouring.
Pictured is an X-ray scan showing the effects of ‘popcorn lung’ – which has been widely linked to vaping
The TGA also found all 190 nicotine vape products it tested broke new labelling rules designed to warn customers of the potential dangers.
A spokesman for the government body said the banned ingredients were known to cause lung damage in the form of bronchiolitis obliterans and EVALI.
EVALI – which stands for e-cigarette or vaping product use-associated lung injury – is thought to be caused by vapes containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive substance also found in marijuana, and vitamin E acetate.
Federal legislation introduced last October imposed minimum safety standards for nicotine vapes imported from overseas and made warning labels mandatory.
The law also made it illegal to purchase nicotine vapes without a prescription.
The new laws are set to curb the risk of nicotine vaping uptake in young adults, while also allowing current smokers to access the products for smoking cessation, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
There are still two ways prescription holders can obtain nicotine vaping products in Australia; from a pharmacy or importing from overseas websites.
Prescriptions can only be written by one of 80 authorised prescribers, or by a doctor with approval under the TGA’s Special Access Scheme B.
An authorised prescriber of nicotine vaping products must be a GP who is registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Despite disapproval from vaping advocates, the new laws are being supported by The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH).
‘ACOSH strongly supports any measure that will effectively stem the flow of illegal disposable e-cigarettes into Australia that are being used by an increasing number of children and teenagers,’ said Chief Executive Maurice Swanson.
‘There is growing concern about the use of e-cigarettes among children and teenagers.’
A study conducted by the Australian Drug and Alcohol Foundation found 20 per cent of non-smokers had tried vapes and two thirds who smoked cigarettes were also using the disposable devices.
The alarming stats come despite a study showing vapes can contain paint, disinfectant, crude oil and even a drug used to kill fish.
The findings come from an investigation into the contents of 50 over-the-counter vapes done by Curtin University.
More than half of the vapes tested contained chemicals toxic to humans if repeatedly inhaled and some were linked to lung cancer.
Phoebe Burgess is seen here during a recent appearance on The Morning Show
The study found the liquids used in 50 vapes bought without prescription included eugenol – which is used to euthanise fish – petroleum, household disinfectant, cosmetics and paint.
Many have completely ‘unknown effects on respiratory health’.
The sale of nicotine-based e-cigarettes was banned in every Australian state from October 1 last year, with people only able to purchase the vapes if they have a doctor’s prescription.
But vape vendors are sidestepping the ban by selling the disposable devices on the black market.