Vaping is causing "addiction in a new generation of users", according to a report released on Thursday.
The Australian National University report found young non-smokers who were vaping were three times more likely to take up cigarette smoking than young people who were not vaping.
It also found little evidence e-cigarettes could help a person quit smoking in a clinical or personal setting.
The study echos health expert warnings around the rise in vaping, particularly among young people.
Ballarat Community Health health promotions manager Louise Feery said there had been an upward trend in queries from schools and parents in the region about vaping products and their effects on young people.
"Most parents and young people do now know what vaping products actually contain and are unaware of the health effects of using the products," Ms Feery said.
"Some people mistakenly believe the cloud from vaping is a vapour, like steam. It is really an aerosol, a fine spray of chemicals that enter the body via the lungs and small particles that can lodge in the lungs. We need more education for parents, teachers and young people on the impact of vaping on young people's health."
Ms Feery said short-term side effects of vaping could include vomiting and nausea and while long-term effects were not yet known, it was clear inhaling chemicals damages the heart and lungs - even if using e-cigarettes that did not contain nicotine.
The ANU report found early warning signs of cardiovascular damage, such impacts to blood pressure, heart rate and lung function.
Ms Feery said a lack of quality and regulation of safety standards for vaping products and devices was also troubling, particularly in product promotion.
"Ballarat Community Health is also concerned at the placement of e-cigarette and vaping equipment stores in the region. They are predominantly placed in close proximity to youth-focused shopping outlets," Ms Feery said.
"The companies promoting and selling vaping products are appealing to young people, promoting flavours like peach, popcorn and bubble gum."
Ms Feery said nicotine vaping products had also been promoted as a treatment for people trying to give up smoking cigarettes, however it was not a first line treatment for smoking cessation because the evidence is still unclear.
Buying and selling an e-cigarette device or any liquid that contains nicotine without a doctor's prescription is illegal in Australia.
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In Victoria, it is illegal to sell an e-cigarette device or a liquid intended to be used in an e-cigarette device, even if it does not contain nicotine, to a person under 18 years.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation's chief executive officer Erin Lalor said there was no formula for talking to children about drugs but it was important to get facts on vaping before an open and honest conversation about it.
Start with information: Get the key facts, learn the basics about vaping products, and think through what you want to say. Consider some questions you might be asked, and how you want to respond.
Approach it calmly: Parents might want to start the conversation when they're doing an activity together with their children, such as driving or preparing a meal. Keep things casual and relaxed. Parents may want to use something they saw in a TV show or on the news (like the new vaping report) as a chance to bring up the issue.
Don't make assumptions: If a parent thinks their child may have tried vaping, they should avoid making accusations. Going through someone's space looking for evidence isn't recommended because it can undermine trust.
Avoid judging or lecturing: Parents should listen to their child's point of view and keep it a two-way conversation. Parents should be mindful of body language and tone. If their child has tried vaping, parents can try asking questions like, "what made you want to try?" and "how did it make you feel?".
Don't exaggerate: Parents should make sure they are honest with their children about potential harms and avoid exaggerated statements.
Focus on health and explain your concerns: Parents should focus on how they care about their children and want them to be healthy. For example, if their child is vaping nicotine, parents can say that they are concerned about the evidence that this can affect adolescent brain development.
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