Unpacking Vaping in Schools Project

The Unpacking Vaping in Schools Project is a community approach to address the increasing prevalence of e-cigarette use in adolescents. The core tenets of this approach are listening and action.

How it started?

In early 2021, Principals from high schools in western Sydney reported a significant increase in the prevalence of e-cigarette use in students across all year groups and expressed concerns regarding the impact of e-cigarettes on students’ health, learning and behavioural outcomes. 

To prevent e-cigarette use and support cessation in adolescents, PERU instigated a suite of initiatives as part of an integrated community wide approach. 

Before an appropriate school-based intervention can be developed, it is important to understand students’, teachers’ and parents’ perceptions of e-cigarette use and their preferred methods of communicating prevention messages.

In partnership with one western Sydney high school, we conducted pilot consultation sessions with students, teachers, and parents during school Terms 2 and 3 in 2021. See results below

Learn more about this in this AMA article.

Unpacking Vaping in Schools Study

The aim of the Unpacking Vaping in Schools study was to determine (1) the perceived knowledge, attitudes and behaviours of e-cigarette use in adolescents, and (2) effective e-cigarette prevention strategies for adolescents.

To do this, PERU engaged students, school staff and parents/ carers from high schools in greater western Sydney in separate consultation sessions. The student and school staff sessions involved a combination of interactive activities, small-group brainstorming, and opportunities for open discussion.

Most parent/ carer sessions were held over Zoom and utilized a focus group format to allow for in-depth discussion.

School staff

Schools Involved So Far ...

Click poster to see winning entries

Youth Voices Unpacking Vaping poster competition

To recognise World No Tobacco Day, 2022 PERU in partnership with the Tobacco Control team at Population Health implemented the Youth Voices Unpacking Vaping poster competition.

The aim was to provide students with an opportunity to develop and promote e-cigarette prevention messages.

The competition was open to all high school students in western Sydney and invited them to submit a poster addressing either the health effects of e-cigarette use, the impact of e-cigarettes on the environment, or the marketing strategies used by tobacco companies.

Sixty nine poster entries were received from >80 high school students, representing 17 high schools.

“My poster was inspired by the warning signs they put on cigarette packages. I wanted to create a poster that showed why warning signs are also important for vape packages.”

– Year 9 western Sydney prize winner.

Creating partnerships in the community

The community approach to this project is key to ensuring a unified approach to addressing e-cigarette use in adolescents. 

As part of this approach, we have strengthened partnerships with schools, healthcare providers and public health experts through the Unpacking Vaping Committees and joint research. 

In doing this, we can produce solutions which reflect the needs of the school community. 

Praise For PERU's Vaping Research


PERU Research Initiative 1

PERU Research Initiative 2

PERU Research Initiative 3

PERU Research Initiative 4

Let’s Partner To Give Students A Voice

Contact us to learn more about our empowerment programs that give students a voice to create supportive environments in their school community.