Get Regular Updates!



Getty Images

Why do West Aussies vape?

Why do West Aussies vape?

The popularity of vaping is on the rise, but one of its main appeals may come as a surprise.

Why do West Aussies vape?

Long gone are the days of hazy bars and smoking sections on airplanes. And while cigarette use in Australia has been in steady decline since 1994, the popularity of vaping is exploding, especially among young people.

Conventional cigarettes create smoke by burning tobacco. E-cigarettes create a vapour from nicotine-containing liquid, which is then inhaled.

A survey conducted in 2019 for the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping products among young people aged 18–24 had quadrupled since 2016.

Kahlia McCausland is a Research Officer at the Collaboration for Evidence, Research and Impact in Public Health at Curtin University. She is doing her PhD on vaping.

She says that, as well as being much cheaper than cigarettes, the colourful vaping devices and sweet or fruity flavours are particularly attractive for young people.

A way to quit, or a way to start?

In America, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took vaping company Juul to task for making unauthorised claims that vaping is safer than smoking or even a way to quit.

View Larger
Image|Photo by CDC on Unsplash
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has researched the health effects of e-cigarettes

Perhaps unsurprisingly, evidence suggests that vaping and the marketing around it is having the opposite effect.

“Disturbingly, of the students who use e-cigarettes, 48% report that they had not smoked a tobacco cigarette before their first e-cigarette,” says Kahlia.

“And 25% of students who vape before smoking report later trying tobacco cigarettes.”

Kahlia and her team also found that people trying to give up smoking were switching to vaping because “they believed vaping was significantly less detrimental to their health than tobacco smoking”.

Cloud chasers

But what may be surprising is that one of main appeals of vaping may actually be the subculture around it.

View Larger
Image|Getty Images

Looking specifically at Western Australia, Kahlia and her team calls these vapers “cloud chasers”.

“Cloud chasers connected with aspects of the vaper subculture. This included engaging in hobbyist activities like collecting mods and flavoured e-liquids, making their own e-liquids and accessories such as coils,” says Kahlia.

They also connect with other vapers through mediums like social media and local vape stores.

“A smaller number of cloud chasers were heavily invested in the vape trick culture, expressing interest in participating in local vape competitions and posting content on their social media pages.”

Is it safer?

So is vaping actually safer than smoking tobacco as vaping companies have claimed?

“There is evidence that suggests e-cigarettes are less harmful than combustible tobacco cigarettes. However, there is also evidence that e-cigarettes are not harmless and may deliver ultrafine particles into the lungs of users,” says Kahlia.

“Studies have found short-term acute health consequences associated with e-cigarette use such as nausea, vomiting, mouth and airway irritation, chest pain and palpitations.”

But the real challenge is time, she says. “As seen with tobacco, it took decades to determine the link between smoking and lung cancer.”


If Betty Draper taught us anything …

Just because it hasn’t been scientifically proven to be harmful is not the same thing as something being safe.

Particle Puns


Creative Commons Logo

Republishing our content

We want our stories to be shared and seen by as many people as possible.

Therefore, unless it says otherwise, copyright on the stories on Particle belongs to Scitech and they are published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

This allows you to republish our articles online or in print for free. You just need to credit us and link to us, and you can’t edit our material or sell it separately.

Using the ‘republish’ button on our website is the easiest way to meet our guidelines.


You cannot edit the article.

When republishing, you have to credit our authors, ideally in the byline. You have to credit Particle with a link back to the original publication on Particle.

If you’re republishing online, you must use our pageview counter, link to us and include links from our story. Our page view counter is a small pixel-ping (invisible to the eye) that allows us to know when our content is republished. It’s a condition of our guidelines that you include our counter. If you use the ‘republish’ then you’ll capture our page counter.

If you’re republishing in print, please email us to let us so we know about it (we get very proud to see our work republished) and you must include the Particle logo next to the credits. Download logo here.

If you wish to republish all our stories, please contact us directly to discuss this opportunity.


Most of the images used on Particle are copyright of the photographer who made them.

It is your responsibility to confirm that you’re licensed to republish images in our articles.


All Particle videos can be accessed through YouTube under the Standard YouTube Licence.

The Standard YouTube licence

  1. This licence is ‘All Rights Reserved’, granting provisions for YouTube to display the content, and YouTube’s visitors to stream the content. This means that the content may be streamed from YouTube but specifically forbids downloading, adaptation, and redistribution, except where otherwise licensed. When uploading your content to YouTube it will automatically use the Standard YouTube licence. You can check this by clicking on Advanced Settings and looking at the dropdown box ‘License and rights ownership’.
  2. When a user is uploading a video he has license options that he can choose from. The first option is “standard YouTube License” which means that you grant the broadcasting rights to YouTube. This essentially means that your video can only be accessed from YouTube for watching purpose and cannot be reproduced or distributed in any other form without your consent.


For more information about using our content, email us:

Copy this HTML into your CMS
Press Ctrl+C to copy

We've got chemistry. Want something physical?