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Is vaping or smoking bad for your health?

When you go to parties, festivals, or a casual hang out with your friends, you might be tempted to smoke cigarettes or vape. The best thing you can do for your health is to avoid trying it in the first place, or if you’re already smoking or vaping, quit. 

Smoking and vaping may seem ‘cool’ or ‘rebellious’, but it can have very serious consequences for your health. 

How does smoking affect your health?

You’ve probably seen ad campaigns or warnings on cigarette packets about the dangers of smoking. Cigarettes contain highly processed tobacco (with lots of chemicals that are not good for your health) and an addictive substance called nicotine.

Nicotine use can cause serious health issues such as:
  • Lung disease and breathing problems
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Many types of cancer — including lung, throat, stomach, and bladder cancer
  • Infections (like pneumonia)
  • Diabetes
  • Eye disease and blindness
  • Weaker bones
  • Fertility problems, like the inability to get pregnant 
  • Dental problems like yellow teeth and gum disease

On top of that, smoking is a very expensive habit — in Australia, the average smoker spends $5237 a year on cigarettes. Imagine what else you could use that money for! 

What about vaping?

Vaping has become super popular in recent years — maybe some of your friends or people at your school vape. Vapes come in all kinds of fruity flavours, are readily available, and don’t have the warning signs that cigarettes do. As vapes don’t have that distinctive smell or taste of cigarettes, some people think it’s a safer alternative to smoking. But don’t be fooled! Nicotine vapes actually have very similar impacts on our health to smoking.

So why are people still smoking and vaping? The simple answer is addiction. Nicotine makes your brain release a ‘feel good’ chemical called dopamine, which can:

  • Make you feel happy 
  • Help you concentrate
  • Give you more energy 

But these effects are short-lived. The long-term health impacts of smoking and vaping definitely don’t make this worth it.

Nicotine makes smoking and vaping highly addictive

Once you start smoking or vaping, it’s hard to stop. Why? Because tobacco products contain nicotine, which is a highly addictive chemical. Like with heroin and other addictive drugs, once you start using nicotine the body and mind quickly gets so used to it that it feels like you need nicotine just to feel normal. 

This is why people find it so hard to quit smoking and vaping. Once you start, it feels like you constantly need it to function. But it’s never too late to quit! When you finally break this cycle, you can be free from addiction and live a much healthier life.

An image of cigarette butts in an ashtray.
Quitting smoking and vaping

Quitting is hard, but once you quit you’ll feel so much healthier and soon realise that you don’t need nicotine to function. 

It can be difficult to quit if you are surrounded by people in your life who smoke or vape, especially in social situations. But remember: a true friend or loved one will respect your decision and support you.

Reasons to quit smoking and vaping:
Brain Health

Nicotine affects your brain development, making it harder to learn and concentrate. Some changes are permanent and can affect your mood and ability to control your impulses as an adult. So the best thing to do is quit early!

Risk of further addiction

Getting addicted to nicotine can set up pathways in your brain that make it easier to get addicted to other substances later down the track. In this sense, it can be a ‘gateway drug’


Cigarettes and vapes are super expensive! Try calculating how much you spend on tobacco products in a year, and what else you could be spending that on.

Environmental cost

The tobacco industry has a hugely damaging impact on our environment — every year, it costs the world more than 600 million trees and 84 million tonnes of CO2. By quitting, you are showing that you don’t support the contribution of tobacco companies to climate change. Think about it — these companies make a huge profit by fuelling addiction, so they continue to make more and more cigarettes for addicted customers and damage our planet in the process. This is why by quitting, you are protesting against the tobacco industry. 

Vapes are also super harmful for the environment — in fact, they present a triple threat of plastic waste, electronic waste, and hazardous waste. They are very difficult to recycle as the plastic is combined with liquid nicotine and electronic parts, which means they end up in landfill. Once in landfill, discarded vapes leach toxins into the soil and pollute the environment. 

I want to quit, but how do I start? 

Quitting is hard, but it’s all worth it. You’re likely to experience withdrawal symptoms and intense cravings — the first few days are especially difficult. Some common withdrawal symptoms include headaches, trouble concentrating and sleeping, feeling hungry, restlessness, and feeling tired and cranky. 

But don’t give up! Persevering and quitting for good has so many benefits. You’ll thank yourself for it later. 

Some tips to help you quit
Write down your reasons 

Decide why you want to quit and write it down somewhere. Every time you feel the urge to smoke or vape, look at this list. 

Pick a day to officially quit

Put it in your calendar and tell supportive friends and family that you’re quitting on that day. This way they know not to encourage you to smoke/vape and to offer support if you’re having a hard time. 

Get rid of all smoking or vaping supplies 

This seems obvious but throwing out any tobacco products and making sure they’re out of reach means you actually can’t use them. 

Use quitting apps

Quitting apps are a helpful way to keep track of your progress and guide you on your journey to quitting. Some apps you can use include 

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is struggling with withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and the social pressure associated with smoking/vaping, reach out for support.

  • Call Quitline for free and confidential help with smoking or vaping. 

You can also chat with a school counsellor or access help through Reach Out, eheadspace and Kids Helpline.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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