Vaping Statistics Australia

Vaping Statistics Australia: Insights into Youth and Adult Use

In recent years, vaping has gained popularity as an alternative to traditional smoking. Many Australians who have used an e-cigarette are likely to be current smokers or are trying to quit tobacco smoking altogether.

With a wide variety of electronic cigarettes on the market, users can access almost any type of device to suit their needs and preferences. In Australia, however, the most sought-after devices are closed-system e-cigarettes.

Health organisations in Australia have expressed concern about the safety of vaping products. With limited scientific proof of negative health effects, however, no definitive action can be taken.

In this article, we will explore vaping statistics in Australia, looking at different age groups, frequency of smoking, reasons for smoking, impact on smoking cessation and other demographics.

Key Takeaways

  • 69% of e-cigarette users are current smokers when they first try an e-cigarette.
  • Roughly 14% of 12- to 17-year-olds have tried an e-cigarette.
  • 17.9% of young adults who try e-cigarettes use them at least once a month.
  • 22% of current smokers and recent ex-smokers in Australia report using an e-cigarette or vape device as an attempt to quit conventional smoking.

What Are E-Cigarettes Or Vapes?

E-cigarettes, also called vapes, are battery-powered devices that work by heating a liquid (or juice) until it turns into an aerosol that users inhale.

This aerosol contains a fine spray of chemicals that enter the body through the lungs. Many experts consider this a safer alternative to smoking, as vape juice doesn’t contain the toxic chemicals found in tobacco cigarette smoke: tar and carbon monoxide.

General Vaping Statistics For All Ages

Vaping and using e-cigarettes is a common trend worldwide, Australia included. Young people seem to be drawn to vaping, but older generations are starting to turn to e-cigarettes too. Some individuals try vaping once and never again, while others go on to “smoke” frequently.

The motives for trying vaping devices tend to vary; the most common being curiosity and smoking cessation.

The following general statistics were recorded by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020), looking at people aged 14 years and older:

  • 69% of e-cigarette users identified as current smokers when they tried an e-cigarette for the first time.
  • 23% of users considered themselves a “never smoker” when they tried their first e-cigarette.
  • 54% of people report having tried e-cigarettes out of curiosity.
  • 23% of people report using e-cigarettes because they believed they were less harmful than traditional tobacco smoking.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Teenage Vaping In Australia

Vaping has become increasingly popular among Australian teenagers in recent years. Flavoured e-cigarettes appeal to teenagers because they offer a variety of sweet and fruity flavours that many smokers find taste better than traditional tobacco products.

How many teenagers vape?

A 2017 Australian Secondary Students’ Alcohol and Drug Survey indicated the following data:

  • Around 14% of users aged 12 to 17 have tried an e-cigarette at least once.
  • 32% of the above users used an e-cigarette or vape in the past month.
  • 63% of adolescents report getting e-cigarettes from their friends, and 12% report buying an e-cig themselves.

Source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Young Adult Vaping In Australia

The young adult age group makes up the majority of vapers in Australia. Individuals in this age group are drawn to the convenience, customisable options, and variety of flavours offered by e-cigarettes.

Percentage of young adults who vape in Australia:

The below statistics are relevant to young people aged 18-24 in Australia:

  • 64% of current cigarette smokers report having tried an e-cigarette or vape.
  • 4.8% of people report the current use of an e-cigarette or vape.
  • 20% of non-smokers report having tried an e-cigarette or vape.
  • 17.9% of people who try e-cigarettes or vapes use them at least monthly.
  • 74% of young adults try e-cigarettes or vapes out of curiosity.

Source: Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Vaping statistics amongst young adult men and women:

When it comes to sex demographics, the following is true for men and women aged 18 and older who have used an e-cigarette:

  • Men are more likely than women to use an e-cigarette or vape at least once (11.3% compared to 7.5%).
  • Men are more likely than women to currently use an e-cigarette or vape (2.9% compared to 1.6%).

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Older Adult Vaping In Australia

Vaping is not only a pastime for young people but is also becoming popular in older age groups. Many individuals in this bracket are former smokers who have switched to vaping as a potentially less harmful alternative. Others take up vaping as a smoking cessation aid.

Vaping statistics amongst adults aged 45 and older:

  • 2.9% report having formerly used an e-cigarette or vaping device.
  • 1.5% report currently using an e-cigarette or vaping device.

Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Vaping Trends Over Time

Data from the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS) suggests that the lifetime use of e-cigarettes is on the rise in Australia.

The 2019 data from the NDSHS was compared to data from the same survey conducted three years earlier, in 2016. The following statistical increases were reported for people aged 14 and older:

  • The percentage of smokers who had tried an e-cigarette in their lifetime increased by 8% (31% in 2016; 39% in 2019.)
  • There was a 2% increase in the proportion of non-smokers who had tried an e-cigarette in their lifetime (4.9% in 2016; 6.9% in 2019.)
  • There was a 1.7% increase in the number of smokers who reported daily e-cigarette use (1.5% in 2016; 3.2% in 2019.)
  • The percentage of ex-smokers that use e-cigarettes daily increased by 1.4% (0.8% in 2016; 2.2% in 2019.)

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare

Types Of Vaping Products

Vaping devices can be broadly classified into three categories: minis, refillable systems, and closed systems.

1. Minis: Minis are small, compact vaping devices made to look like a conventional cigarette. They are easy to carry around and require little maintenance. Mini devices are disposable and use pre-filled cartridges that are replaced when the e-liquid runs out.

2. Refillable Systems: Refillable systems are larger than mini devices. They typically consist of a tank that holds the e-liquid and a battery that powers the device. Users can refill the liquid as they need and can choose from a wide range of e-liquid flavours. Users can also adjust the device’s settings to their liking.

3. Closed Systems: Closed systems, also known as pod systems, are similar to mini devices in that they use pre-filled cartridges. However, they are typically larger and more powerful than mini devices. The cartridges are designed to be refilled multiple times.

The Australian market is predominantly dominated by closed-system e-cigarette devices. This includes devices such as pod vapes, which are pre-filled with e-liquid and are designed to be disposed of when the liquid is depleted. The popularity of these devices is largely due to their convenience and ease of use.

Refillable system devices, such as vape pens and box mods, are less commonly used.

Market data from Euromonitor International found that as of 2020, closed-system devices accounted for approximately 60% of the Australian e-cigarette market, while refillable system devices accounted for approximately 40%.

Sources: Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA); Lung Foundation Australia

Dual Use Of Tobacco Products And E-cigarettes

What is dual use?

The dual use of tobacco cigarettes and vaping refers to the practice of using both traditional tobacco cigarettes and electronic cigarettes at the same time or intermittently.

People who smoke tobacco cigarettes as well as e-cigarettes either do so because they enjoy the experience of smoking both or because they are trying to quit conventional smoking by incorporating the use of e-cigarettes.

Use of e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking

In 2020, approximately 22% of current smokers or recent ex-smokers in Australia reported that they used an e-cigarette in their most recent attempt to quit.

Furthermore, individuals who perceive e-cigarettes as less harmful than traditional cigarettes are more likely to use them as a cessation aid.

A randomized controlled trial conducted in Australia revealed that trial participants chose e-cigarettes more often than nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) at a rate of 71.1% to 29.0%.

Multiple studies indicate that smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to attempt to stop smoking conventional cigarettes, particularly adults versus teenagers. Although smokers who use e-cigarettes are already more motivated to stop smoking, the use of e-cigarettes among smokers who lack motivation may prompt thoughts about quitting.

In 2021, a meta-analysis and Cochrane review provided moderate certainty evidence that individuals who used electronic nicotine delivery systems were 1.7 times more likely to stop smoking successfully compared to those who made use of other methods, namely: non-nicotine e-cigarettes and NRT.

Multiple studies reviewed by Tobacco in Australia have observed a reduction in the daily consumption of conventional cigarettes among e-cigarette users. However, this may not lead to significant changes in consumption at a population level.

According to a study, dual use of products led to a reduction in cigarette consumption but an increase in overall nicotine use and dependence. In turn, this could impede one’s ability to discontinue the use of either or both of the products.

Source: Tobacco in Australia

e-cigarette use among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults in Australia in 2018/19.

Overall Results: Less than one in ten (8.1%; 6.7,9.4) Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults have ever used e-cigarettes. Current use is substantially lower than lifetime use, with only 1.3% (0.8,1.9) of adults currently using e-cigarettes daily or weekly. Additionally, less than 3% (2.7%; 1.9,3.6) of adults had used an e-cigarette product containing nicotine within the year preceding the survey.

Age Group Results: Younger adults are more likely to have used e-cigarettes, with ever use being significantly more common among those aged 18-24 and 25-44 years compared to those aged 45 years and over. Current use of e-cigarettes showed a similar pattern, with younger age groups having a higher prevalence of current use. The use of e-cigarettes containing nicotine within the past year was more common among younger age groups.

Age Group Results

Age Group Ever Use of E-cigarettes (%) Current Use of E-cigarettes (%) Use of E-cigarettes with Nicotine in Past Year (%)
18-24 years 13.6 2.0 5.1
25-44 years 8.6 1.6 2.7
45 years and over 4.2 0.6 1.4

Sex Results: There was no significant difference in e-cigarette use prevalence between males and females. However, males were more likely to be current e-cigarette users and to have used e-cigarettes containing nicotine within the past year than females.

Sex Results

Sex Ever Use of E-cigarettes (%) Current Use of E-cigarettes (%) Use of E-cigarettes with Nicotine in Past Year (%)
Male 9.7 1.9 3.4
Female 6.5 0.8 2.1

Remoteness Results: E-cigarette use was more prevalent in major cities and regional areas compared to remote areas. The majority of e-cigarette users live in major cities and regional areas, with only a small minority living in remote settings.

Remoteness Results

Remoteness Ever Use of E-cigarettes (%) Use of E-cigarettes with Nicotine in Past Year (%)
Major cities 10.1 3.1
Inner and outer regional 8.7 3.4
Remote and very remote 2.6 0.4

Australian Health Organisations’ Views On Vaping

The views of Australian health organisations on vaping and e-cigarettes are generally cautious. Many organizations recommend that smokers use other cessation aids that are more evidence-based and proven to be effective.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has expressed concerns about the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. They note that the long-term effects of vaping are still not fully understood. For this reason, they believe that other evidence-based methods may be safer and more effective.

Alternative methods to the use of nicotine vaping products include nicotine replacement therapy or prescription medications.

While negative health effects have not yet been scientifically proven, the AMA has also called for tighter regulation of nicotine vaping products. This includes a ban on their sale to minors, restrictions on advertising, and limits on the amount of nicotine they can contain.

The Cancer Council Australia has also expressed caution about e-cigarettes. The organisation notes that there is a likelihood that users are exposing themselves to harmful chemicals and toxins.

According to a national health survey conducted by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare in 2019, the majority of Australians (around 86%) believed that e-cigarettes were harmful to health. In the same national health survey, around 8% believed they were less harmful than traditional cigarettes.

The long-term effects of vaping are still not fully understood, and research is ongoing to better understand the potential risks associated with e-cigarette use.

Cost Of Vaping

The cost of vaping in Australia varies depending on several factors, including the type of device, e-liquid, and local taxes and regulations.

Nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are legal in Australia only with a prescription, which may add to the cost of obtaining and using them. Nicotine-free e-cigarettes are available for purchase without a prescription. However, the cost of these devices and associated accessories such as coils, tanks, and e-liquids can still be significant.

According to a report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the average expenditure on electronic cigarettes by Australian households was around AUD $9 per week in 2016-17. This represents a small but growing share of overall expenditure on tobacco and related products, which was around AUD $27 per week on average.

However, the cost of vaping can vary widely depending on individual usage patterns and preferences.

Some vapers may spend more on premium e-liquids or high-end devices, while others may choose more affordable options. Local taxes and regulations on vaping products can also affect their cost, with some states and territories imposing additional taxes or restrictions on the sale and use of e-cigarettes.

Source: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare


Are there any restrictions on where e-cigarettes can be used in Australia?

Yes, many states and territories in Australia have laws that prohibit e-cigarette use in certain public places. This includes indoor areas of restaurants and bars, public transport, and workplaces.

Are e-cigarettes and vaping devices regulated in Australia?

Yes, e-cigarettes and vaping devices are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in Australia. However, the regulations vary depending on whether the device contains nicotine or not.

Can I import nicotine e-cigarettes for personal use?

It is legal to import nicotine e-cigarettes for personal use with a valid prescription, but the importation of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes without a prescription is prohibited.

What are some potential side effects of vaping?

Some potential side effects of vaping include dry mouth, sore throat, coughing, nausea, headaches, and dizziness.




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