An e-cigarette (also known as a ‘vape’) is a battery-powered device that heats liquid (‘e-liquid’ or ‘juice’) into an aerosol, which is inhaled into the lungs.

In Victoria, possessing or selling e-cigarettes containing nicotine without a prescription is illegal. It is also illegal to sell an e-cigarette to a person aged under 18 years, regardless of whether they contain nicotine.

There is currently limited regulation of quality and safety standards for e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes purchased in retail stores (or imported from overseas) without a prescription are not subject to any specific quality or safety standards.

Some e-cigarettes are marketed to young people on the claim that they do not contain nicotine. However, most e-cigarettes and vaping liquids in Australia do contain highly addictive nicotine, even if it is not stated on the label.

The e-cigarette industry also uses social media tactics to re-direct young people to online retailers and normalise nicotine dependence. Laws have been proposed to ban the future sale and import of all non-prescription e-cigarettes. There may be an increase in e-cigarette marketing and sales ahead of any future import and sales ban.


Many e-cigarettes contain harmful chemicals that are known causes of cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

Many e-cigarettes and e-liquids also contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Young people become more easily and rapidly addicted to nicotine than adults. Nicotine harms the way a young person’s brain grows, which may affect memory and concentration. Research from Cancer Council Victoria has found that adolescents who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking tobacco cigarettes.

The role of schools

Students who vape are more likely to be less engaged at school, have lower learning and wellbeing outcomes and participate less in school activities.

A whole-of-school approach to vaping prevention and response can build wellbeing and connection that meaningfully engages students to change behaviour and promote health.

School smoking and vaping ban

The Tobacco Act 1987 (Vic) bans smoking and vaping on school premises, and within 4 metres of any pedestrian access point to school premises. This applies to anyone on school premises during and outside of school hours including students, staff and school visitors.

The department also bans smoking and vaping at school events and excursions held off school premises.

Includes information on harms, the role of schools and the school smoking and vaping ban

Reviewed 04 March 2024

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