Statistics show more young people are taking up vaping, even as the number of daily smokers in New South Wales (NSW) continues to fall.
People over the age of 16 lighting up every day fell from 9.2 percent in 2020 to 8.2 percent in 2021, according to the 2021 NSW Population Health survey.
Speaking on World No Tobacco Day, NSW’s Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said she was impressed some 23 percent of NSW residents were now successful former smokers and urged more people to kick the habit.
“The NSW quitters group now numbers about 1.5 million, which is amazing progress because we know quitting can be hard,” Chant said.
“To anyone who wants to quit but is finding it challenging, be encouraged by the success of these people and know that there is support available to help you quit successfully.”
Of those who still smoke, 41 percent are serious about quitting in the next six months and one in five (19 percent) plan to quit in the next month, according to 2021’s NSW Smoking & Health Survey.
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things a person can do for their health, Chant explained.
“It will reduce your risk of 16 different types of cancer, coronary heart disease, stroke and other debilitating conditions,” she said.
“Concerningly, people put off quitting because they think they will be able to quit before the damage is done.
“But every single cigarette smoked is doing damage.”
While the number of smokers has dropped, there has been a growing prevalence in the use of vapes, or e-cigarettes, among young people.
More than one in 10 young people aged 16 to 24 vaped between 2020 and 2021 – double the rate of 2019-2020.
“This is a worrying trend for our young people because vapes can contain many harmful chemicals and toxins, even if they are nicotine free,” Chant said.
“We know vapes can harm your health in the short-term, but the long-term effects are largely unknown.”
She said the growth of vaping has the potential to undermine decades of tobacco-control work in Australia.
“My message to young people who vape: Please quit today and know there is support available,” she said.
People who want support should call the Quitline on 13 78 48, or speak with their GP.