Students vaping in a toilet cubicle, leaving school grounds to vape in a park or importing vaping pods from overseas in bulk to sell to their peers for a profit.
E-cigarettes and their use by school-aged students is real across the Mid North Coast, according to Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia founder Paul Dillon.
Electronic cigarettes, e-cigarettes or vapes simulate smoking by electrically heating a liquid to produce a flavoured vapour.
Mr Dillon has been working on drug and alcohol research for the past 25 years and will present a free parent webinar on up-to-date information about vaping via Zoom from 7pm to 8pm on Wednesday, August 11.
"I started seeing the vaping issue bubble up during 2015 and it has really exploded during 2019," he said.
"It doesn't matter what school you go to, every school is trying to deal with the vaping issue. It's the first time since the late 1970s that a drug issue has come onto school grounds.
"It's a very new phenomenon, there is a huge debate about it and unfortunately kids are trapped in the middle.
"The two prevailing messages are identifying it as a gateway to smoking for young people and the other saying it's a great way to help people quit smoking to a healthier alternative.
"There is a normalisation of vaping through social media and some young people would say it's not only socially acceptable to vape, but socially expected.
"There are certainly harms from vaping but there is also so much we don't know."
Mr Dillon will also be speaking to teaching staff in a webinar on Thursday, August 12. Both events are hosted by Northern NSW and Mid North Coast local health districts.
School teachers are faced with an issue fast becoming outside their control, while parents are faced with an issue outside their knowledge, according to Mr Dillon.
"Parents are concerned about risks to health, general information and vaping facts. They are struggling when they find out their child is vaping and are confronted with the response, 'at least I'm not smoking'," he said.
"Teachers are more concerned with how to communicate with young people about vaping and how to deal with prevention effectively.
"Both teachers and parents are struggling here and the aim is that everyone has the same information so that everyone can all be on the same page to have the best opportunity to make a difference."
In NSW adults can buy and use e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine, however it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes or e-cigarette accessories to a person under 18 years of age.
For more information about the webinars visit www.darta.net.au.
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