Calvin (not his real name), 21, started smoking when he was just 13 years old. He picked up vaping when he was 17, thinking it was a better option than smoking. 

“[Vaping is] much less harsh than smoking, much more convenient, and comes in many different flavours for you to choose from,” said Calvin, who vapes daily. 

“[Trying to quit] would be especially difficult when things get stressful, as nicotine has been a main way of coping with stress for me,” said Calvin. 

“Once something becomes accepted as a coping mechanism, it’s hard to change, especially when it works very well,” he added. 

Like Calvin, many Gen-Zs today have become more accepting of vaping because of the perception that it’s a better alternative to smoking. 

A HealthHub article stated that “70 per cent of young people surveyed did not realise vaping is harmful and has been linked to at least 60 deaths”.

Some dangers of vaping include heightened risk of heart and lung diseases like myocardial infarction, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the short-term, as well as addiction due to the presence of nicotine.

A group of final-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic Mass Communication students conducted a survey at the end of last year. Out of 301 youth respondents, 17 said they have smoked while 46 said they have vaped. Most vapers said vaping is “cool” and “relaxing”. 

To correct these misconceptions, the students started the No Shade, Just Colour (NSJC) social media campaign in collaboration with the Health Promotion Board (HPB)

“We want to increase the youth’s knowledge on the harms of vaping or smoking through active social media engagement,” said Aisyah Ridzham, NSJC’s team lead. 

Aisyah added: “’No Shade’ refers to the monotonous or dark feeling that you experience when you are controlled by addiction. Then ‘Colour’ refers to the positive experiences and habits or hobbies that you can have instead of turning to smoking or vaping.”

NSJC uses graffiti art, TikToks and memes to educate the youth on the harms of vaping and smoking. Photo Credit: No Shade, Just Colour

The team also found out from their street interview that some young people are unaware that vaping is illegal.

It is an offence under the Tobacco (Control of Advertisements and Sale) Act (TCASA) to sell, use, possess for sale, import or distribute imitation tobacco products, including vapourisers, in Singapore. 

After learning more about the risks of vaping from the No Shade, Just Colour campaign, Yvonne (not her real name), who picked up vaping in 2019 out of peer pressure, said she’d consider quitting. 

“I enjoy the TikTok videos which capture my attention, and I feel that it is very different from the other campaigns that I’ve seen before” because of its “peer-to-peer” approach. 

But Yvonne acknowledged that it is hard to stamp out vaping as people can buy vape pods easily on Telegram.

Many of these Telegram groups with thousands of members target the youth in Singapore. Photo Credit: Rytasha Raj

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA)  conducted a raid in January and seized $200,000 worth of e-vapourisers and vape components. They have noted that messaging apps like Telegram and WeChat are increasingly used as a marketplace for these illegal products. 

Individuals who import, distribute or sell vapes and their components can be fined up to $10,000 and/or imprisoned for up to six months for first offences, with harsher penalties for repeat offences.

Individuals who use, purchase or possess vapes can be fined up to $2,000.

Would you still take the risk? Share your comments on the No Shade, Just Colour page.

Proofread By:  Chew Jia Wei and Tay Yi Ling Stacey