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A teenager from Sydney became addicted to vaping at just 14 years old and at one stage was doing 3,000 puffs a week. Kangertech Vape
Ruby Ellis, now 18, estimated 90 per cent or more of her classmates and friends use vapes and she was aware of young kids importing them in bulk and selling them on to friends to make some “quick cash”.
“I have never found it difficult to find a vape,” Ruby told The Project.
This is despite it being illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 years old in Australia.
At the height of her addiction, Ruby would have about seven vapes in a draw next to her bed.
“It seriously becomes an issue when it’s the first thing you think of when you wake up in the morning,” she said.
“You wake up and go ‘where is it? where is my vape?’ and it’s the last thing you do before you go to bed. You know like ‘I’ll just have one more hit of the vape.’”
“I would pass out a lot. I would be super light-headed, super dizzy. I’d be on the floor in a minute, you know, complete loss of consciousness,” she said.
Ruby’s desperation to get her hands on a vape became so bad she would go through the rubbish bin without a second-thought.
“There was a dead rabbit with its head cut off and right next to it is the vape,” she said, reflecting. “I’m not even like ‘ew’, nope, I reach my hand in there. I’m like ‘this is so good, I’m so happy I found this’. No hesitation. Disgusting. It’s so embarrassing.”
Her addiction went unnoticed by her parents because it was “so easy to hide”.
“I would do it all the time at home, sometimes in front of my parents if their backs were turned it would just be quick (puff),” she said.
Sometimes the teen would be shaking at the breakfast table and while her mom Nikola would ask if she was OK, it hadn’t clicked what was going on.
Nikola works for NSW Cancer Council, a non-profit organization that wants retailers to be banned from selling nicotine and non-nicotine e-cigarettes to all ages.
Ruby eventually came clean to her mom and was grateful her response was not to get “super angry” but instead support her recovery.
“We’re looking out for the usual things you look out for with your kids so we’re looking out for cigarette smells, looking for changes in behavior in case their drug affected, if there’s any alcohol but with vapes there’s literally no sign at all,” Nikola said.
Health authorities are concerned vaping a “gateway” to smoking in youth and exposure to nicotine in adolescents could have long-term consequences for brain development.
Importing nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine without a prescription from an Australian doctor became illegal in October last year.
Refillable Vape Pens It means Australians without a prescription can no longer order vapes from overseas websites.