Principal

CamNews

Principal

February 25, 2022

Dear Parents and Guardians,

Thank you to members of our community who provided feedback on our Draft Strategic Plan as advertised in the last edition of CamNews. I also had the opportunity to present the draft plan to last week’s Parents & Friends Association meeting. All of the feedback is now being considered and we are planning to release the plan before the end of Term 1.

Paul Dillon Workshops and Vaping

As many families would know, each year Paul Dillon from the Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Centre (DARTA), conducts workshops for our students in Years 10,11 and 12. At these workshops he shares current research and practical strategies that support young people to make healthy, safe and informed decisions regarding drugs and alcohol. On alternate years Paul also presents to staff and to parents.

In recent years our society has seen a rapid rise in the use of e-cigarettes in what is termed ‘vaping’, particularly with young people. Manufacturers have developed a number of products (for example flavoured products) that are directed at young people to entice them into vaping. A number of parents have asked us for further information to assist them to understand more about vaping, so I have asked Kath Woolcock (Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing) to write about this and provide further resources for parents. Kath’s article can be found below and the DARTA website, https://darta.net.au/, also provides useful resources.

With best wishes,

Debbie Dunwoody
Principal

Vaping

The use of e-cigarettes, or ‘vaping’ as it is more commonly known, is of significant concern and has been on the agenda of educators, health care workers and policy makers as the law has struggled to keep up with its recent popularity. The rise in vaping use is dramatic, particularly amoungst teenagers, and according to the Australian Drug Foundation’s 2021 publication on vaping in Australia:

> Approximately 14% of 12 to 17-year-olds have tried an e-cigarette, with around 32% of these students having used one in the past month.

> Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of people who had ever used e-cigarettes rose from 9% to 11%.

> Students who had vaped most commonly reported getting the last e-cigarette they had used from friends (63%), siblings (8%) or parents (7%). Around 12% of students reported buying an e-cigarette themselves.

A vape, or ‘e-cigarette’ is a device that simulates smoking by producing a vapour. It is a battery-operated device that vaporises a liquid solution, many of which contain nicotine and taste like chocolate, fruit or other sweet flavours. While most solutions contain nicotine or flavour only, some do contain TCH oil which is the main psychoactive component of cannabis. Invented in 2003, vaping is still a relatively new practice, and as such, there is little evidence that exists around the long-term harms associated (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019). Early studies have shown that repeated exposure to the vapour can pose a significant risk of long-term disease and damage including lung disease (Australian Government Department of Health, 2019) and evidence also exists to suggest the second and third hand vapour can be extremely harmful. There have also been instances where the devices have exploded while being used, and as a result, young people have been left with significant injuries and facial deformities (Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia, 2020).  

At CGGS drug and alcohol education, including safe choices and harm minimisation, is embedded within our health curriculum across Year 7 – 10 and our wellbeing curriculum at Year 11 and 12. As part of this, we have a long-standing relationship with Paul Dillon from the Drug and Alcohol Research and Training centre where he has been working for over 25 years. Each year, we invite Paul to speak to our staff and students in Years 10, 11 and 12, to share his contemporary research and perspectives on supporting young people to make healthy, safe and informed decisions regarding drugs and alcohol, including vaping. Paul’s strength is in his ability to carefully craft his message using humour, story-telling and real statistics to engage his audience. Throughout the three years, our students learn many life changing and life saving strategies including how to ensure personal safety, the safety of peers and most importantly, being aware of the dangers and risks.

As parents and as teachers, it is important that we too are informed and regularly engage in conversations with young people about the latest ‘fads’ and ‘trends’ in drug and alcohol use, including vaping. In March 2022, Paul will be speaking as part of our Parent Education Seminar series about the key role that parents play in reducing drug and alcohol use in teens and this presentation will include a specific focus on vaping. Paul Dillon provides a range of resources dedicated to parents on his website under the resource section: http://darta.net.au/, and within this you will find a vaping Factsheet for Parents which can also be accessed directly by clicking HERE

Further to this, The Partnership to End Addiction, an organisation based in the US, has developed useful resources to support parents to engage in discussions with their teenagers, by providing information on vaping slang, the potential signs of vaping and strategies for having the conversation. A summary of some of the key messages have been provided below and the full resource can be accessed by clicking HERE

Vaping Slang

Term Explanation
Atty Refers to the atomizer or the heating element that vaporises the e-liquid
Juul or Juuling The most popular brand of vaporiser which is shaped like a USB flash drive and is rechargeable.
Getting Nicked Refers to the euphoria experiences with high doses of nicotine.
Nic sick Refers to the heart palpitations, nausea/vomiting or light headedness associated with overuse of nicotine vapes.
Sauce Refers to the e-juice or chemical inhaled.

Potential signs of vaping

> Possession of vaping equipment or packaging.

> A smell or scent such as chocolate, cake, berries or bubble gum without explanation.

> Increased thirst or increased nosebleeds due to e-juices drying out the mouth and nose.

> Decreased caffeine use as vaping can lead to an increased sensitivity to caffeine.

> References to vaping on social media.

> Changes in appearance or behaviour such as anxiety, irritability, loss of appetite, lack of concentration, dry mouth and increased thirst.

> Physical symptoms such as sore throat, cough, dizziness, headaches, respiratory difficulties.

Strategies for having the conversation

> Look for opportunities to discuss vaping authentically.

> Remain calm and reasonable.

> Be ready to listen.

> Focus on health and safety rather than threats and punishment.

> Avoid open ended questions such as “what do you think about vaping?”.

> Assist children to make informed decisions and weigh up the risks with perceived benefits.

> Answer questions honestly and accurately.

> Have conversations regularly, at age-appropriate times, before children try vaping.

(Partnership to End Addiction, 2020)

It can, at times, be difficult to navigate the world that our young people live in and together and in partnership, teachers and parents provide the best resource and support to help nurture and encourage healthy and safe choices. We encourage parents to use this article as a starting point to engage in conversation authentically and early, and before issues arise. We know that when communication lines are open and these types of conversations occur regularly, we are more likely to have a positive impact on our young people’s decision making.

If you have any questions or require support, please contact the relevant Year Level Coordinator or Deputy Head of Senior School – Student Wellbeing, Kath Woolcock.

References: 

Australian Drug Foundation. 2021. Vaping in Australia. https://adf.org.au/talking-about-drugs/parenting/vaping-youth/vaping-australia/

Department of Health (Australian Government). 2019. E-cigarettes linked to severe lung disease. https://www.health.gov.au/news/e-cigarettes-linked-to-severe-lung-illness

Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia. 2020. Information for Teachers – E-cigarettes and vaping. http://darta.net.au/wordpress-content/uploads/2020/02/E-CIGARETTES-AND-VAPING-2020.pdf

Partnership to End Addiction. 2020. Vaping. What Families Need to Know to Help Protect Children, Teens and Young Adults. https://drugfree.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/What-You-Need-to-Know-and-How-to-Talk-to-Your-Kids-About-Vaping-Guide-Partnership-for-Drug-Free-Kids.pdf