Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

Unprecedented: teens as young as 13 calling Quitline for help with their vaping addiction

Unprecedented: teens as young as 13 calling Quitline for help with their vaping addiction


Unprecedented: teens as young as 13 calling Quitline for help with their vaping addiction

For the first time in the history of Quitline, teenagers as young as 13 are contacting the service for help because they are addicted to vaping.

The director of Quit Victoria, Dr Sarah White, said the calls from teens to the Victorian branch of the service "is unprecedented in our 30-year history".

"The pro-vaping advocates only talk about people who have successfully used vaping to quit smoking, while those that haven't succeeded don't tell their stories," White said. "But the information we have received gives a sense of how people are struggling badly. This year, we have had two 13-year-olds calling for help."

To better understand who is using their services and for what reason, counsellors working for the Victorian Quitline have begun recording de-identified details about the types of calls they receive, including the concerns of the caller, their age and other information. This information is securely locked in a patient-management system.

Some of these de-identified incident reports, provided to Guardian Australia, reveal how Quitline counsellors are navigating calls from vapers desperate to quit for the first time. Counsellors are also fielding calls from parents whose children are addicted and experiencing vaping side-effects such as coughing and chest pain.

"One 15-year-old caller said 80% of his friends vape and he feels strongly addicted, he vapes upon waking and picks it up every five minutes," one of the incident reports said.

Another described how a "13-year-old was supported by their teacher to call from school. "Introduced to vaping in Grade 6 by older friends," the report said. "Vaping causing problems in multiple areas: schools, family and relationships".

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