A young woman who was addicted to vapes has opened up about her addiction battle and revealed the moment she knew she had to kick the habit.

Lily Ford started vaping at 18-years-old.

The disposable devices had been circulating at parties and she decided to try it.

What had started as a way of socialising had led to a “debilitating” addiction.

For three years, vapes were the first thing Ms Ford, now 22, picked up in the morning, and were the last thing she touched at night.

“At the peak of my addiction, I had a 3500 puff bar, and that was lasting me under a week,” Ms Ford said.

“On a night out, I would be able to easily finish a bar.

“3500 puffs is the equivalent of three packets of cigarettes, but of course, I didn’t know that at the time.”

She would continue to puff on the device even when she was sick with Covid-19 and pneumonia.

Ms Ford, who is from Melbourne, said vaping had a negative impact on her mental and physical health.

“Vaping made me so lazy, it was even a struggle to get up and make my bed in the morning because of that internal fog it gave you,” she said.

“I would just be in my bed, just scrolling on Tik Tok, vaping my life away pretty much,

“I entered into this cycle of feeling anxious, reaching for the vape to soothe the anxiety, feeling soothed, and then going back to square one almost immediately, because it’s such a temporary relief.”

Ms Ford said she also started to feeling physically sick more often than she usually would, picking up various colds, flus and even pneumonia, and that symptoms would linger.

After one particularly bad bout of illness, Ms Ford became “fed up” of feeling sick and resolved to quit her daily vaping habit.

“I was in a pretty bad shape, mentally and physically, and something had to give,” she said.

In a bid to improve her health, Ms Ford decided to take herself for a run, something she said she found “really difficult” at first.

“I was really struggling, I was out of breath walking up the stairs, let alone running down the street,” Ms Ford said.

“I was coughing up heaps of liquid, I remember even times I was coughing up blood because of how much I’d strained my lungs.”

But Ms Ford persisted, saying the freedom of running and the endorphins that came with it made her feel “incredible”.

“It was almost like I was swapping my dopamine sources,” Ms Ford said.

“I preferred the dopamine that I was getting on the runs far over anything the vaping could supply me.”

Ms Ford stopped vaping daily, and later managed to quit social vaping too, when she became sober after realising the habit was linked to alcohol consumption.

For Ms Ford, giving up vaping has been a game changer.

She said it took three months of consistent hard work and mental discipline to stop.

She now works as a wellness advocate and lived experience public speaker, her Instagram page has more than 5000 followers, and she just raced in her first half marathon.

“I very, very rarely get down now I feel like I’m doing very, very well socially as well,” she said.

“I’ve managed to sort of wrangle these opportunities that I would never have been able to achieve if I was still vaping.

“I’ve gone from literally coughing up blood and fluid to running a half marathon.”

Ms Ford said she wanted others to know that they could also transform their lives, just like her.

“I don’t think that I’m special for being able to transform my life,” Ms Ford said.

“You can completely 180 and spin it around, because that’s what I’ve done.”

Push to end vaping

On Monday, the federal government will launch a $63.4m advertising blitz aimed at curbing vaping and smoking use as it prepares for a nationwide ban on non-therapeutic vaping products.

The nation’s first adult anti-vaping advertisement, set to be aired in movie theatres and on television screens, depicts a man sitting with his friends in a pub, a man playing with his son, and a woman chatting to a colleague who are then pulled away by an unseen force – their vape.

Another advertisement, which takes an easier tone and has been targeted towards young people, shows teenagers in typical situations where vaping is common and asks viewers the question, “Why are we still doing this?”.

The new ads follows an influencer-led youth vaping campaign that was rolled out on social media earlier this year, which has since been viewed almost 7.7 million times.

The new anti-smoking and anti-vaping advertisements will run across television, digital video and audio, social media, gaming, radio, cinema and out-of-home channels including billboards, shopping centres and bus shelters.

Health Minister Mark Butler said senators had a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to safeguard Australian’s health when they go to vote on the government’s anti-vaping legislation next month.

“Nicotine is highly addictive and before you know it, what starts as an occasional thing becomes something much more serious. But it’s never too late to quit,” Mr Butler said.

Alongside its rollout of a new public health campaign, the government will also increase funding to launch national consistent support services targeted at nicotine addiction caused by vaping and smoking.

This will include the development of an online ‘quit’ hub and the redevelopment of the My QuitBuddy app to provide new features and support targeted at vaping.

Parents and carers will also be provided with new dedicated resources under the plan, as well as updated clinical guidance for health practitioners.

Labor’s third tranche of anti-vaping legislation, which will be voted on in June, will ban the domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes.It follows laws passed in January that outlawed the importation of disposable vapes into Australia.

Those who need support can call Quitline on 137848 or visit https://www.quit.org.au/ for more information.

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