OPINION

Vaping's more than just a whole lot of hot air

Vaping's more than just a whole lot of hot air

There are many things my 15-year-old daughter and I see in very different ways.

Recently, I have discovered that smoking is one of them.

As far as I know, she does not smoke. But she has told me it looks cool.

She would like, she says, to try some of those herbal cigarettes.

This disturbing view has arrived at my frontal lobe at the same time as several stories about vaping at schools - vaping in the back of year 7 classrooms, vaping in the bus on the way to school camp, no doubt vaping in the good old blind spot behind the toilets.

Vaping looks to me a little disgusting.

Not only that, but I hear alarming stories about the possibly very significant health risks.

I believe, from the bits of information I gather furtively here and there, that vaping is somehow cool in the underground river of communication available to young people but not parents.

Boy, does this have a familiar ring about it. In my imagination, I can still see the eyes of James Dean narrowed against the smoke - the lazy smile of Marilyn Monroe, cigarette in hand.

Brigitte Bardot, Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, Clint Eastwood, Brad Pitt - all famous on-screen smokers.

When you are an uncertain teen, it looks like a passport to cool.

These days, when I picture a smoker, I do not picture Marilyn Monroe.

I picture an older woman stealing a precious few minutes from her job to stand out the back and puff long and hard enough to get her through the hour or so until she can have the next one.

I picture being tied to the need to always have a pack of smokes to hand and having to fork over potentially hundreds of dollars a week with no end in sight aside from lung cancer.

Now, there is a community-driven horror of pushing smoking - in movies, at sporting events, just about anywhere.

Those unfortunate enough to have become addicted are marginalised.

When e-cigarettes became a thing, it sounded great.

No nicotine, just long plumes of steam and something to hold in your hand - a great way for smokers to kick the habit.

But just like smoking, we have been duped. We've been given the lolly that's laced with arsenic.

We might have knocked some of the cool off smoking but now, we have vaping. And it comes in candy flavour.

According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, about 14 per cent of 12 to 17-year-olds in Australia have tried an e-cigarette, with about 32 per cent of these having used one in the previous month.

Vaping is a thing - but this time the Marlboro Man has gone underground.

Marie Low is a freelance journalist based in Gunnedah, NSW.

This story Vaping's more than just a whole lot of hot air first appeared on The Canberra Times.