The rise in popularity of vaping has led to increased hospitalisations in Queensland since 2020, according to documents obtained by TDA under a right to information request.
Vaping hospitalisations were highest among teenagers, while some patients underwent serious medical procedures for extensive damage caused by vaping.
QLD Health Minister Shannon Fentiman told TDA the data is “extremely alarming”.
Data shows vaping hospitalisations in Queensland increased between 2020 and 2022.
Hospitals in the state treated 42 vaping-related illnesses between July 2021 to June 2022 – a 425% increase on the previous year.
Vaping patients stayed an average length of six days in hospital in the year to June 2022, up from an average of two days for the previous 12 months.
There were 25 patients admitted to hospital for vaping-related issues in the 2022/23 financial year – a decrease from the previous period.
However, there was an increase in the number of patients admitted for some serious vape-related illnesses in this same period.
What are people being hospitalised for?
The most common diagnosis for vaping hospital admissions was asthma, but there were hospitalisations that required surgery.
Over the 12 months to June 2023, five vaping patients were diagnosed with pneumothorax – a condition where air leaks into space between the lungs and chest wall, causing the lung to collapse.
Two pneumothorax cases were reported from January 2020 to June 2022.
Five patients suffered haemorrhaged respiratory passages due to vape exposure in the last two years. This is a potentially life-threatening condition.
The most patients hospitalised for vaping-related illnesses were 15-19-year-olds, who made up almost 25% of admissions.
Since 2020, two children aged under five have been admitted to hospital with vape-related issues.
Information on the specific cause of hospitalisation for the children was not made available.
Queensland Government’s response
Health Minister Shannon Fentiman told TDA she was concerned about an increase in young people being hospitalised due to vaping.
Fentiman said the Government wouldn’t “stand by and let the next generation become addicted to nicotine and vaping”.
A QLD Parliamentary inquiry into the health risks of vaping published its final report in August. The Government’s response is due in late October.
In Australia, a medical prescription is required to legally buy nicotine vapes and e-cigarettes. However, vapes are still being purchased across Australia.
The Federal and state governments say they’re working to tackle vape use among its biggest users – young people.
The QLD vaping inquiry recommended more education programs to help schoolchildren understand the risks of vaping.