Almost half of adolescents at risk of vaping, new research finds

A recent study has found that almost half of Australian adolescents are at risk of becoming vapers.

Young person vaping.

Author Michelle Jongenelis, Associate Professor at the University of Melbourne, surveyed nearly 1000 12- to 17-year-olds who had never smoked and never vaped.

They were asked to report on how curious they were about using e-cigarettes, how willing they were to use e-cigarettes, and whether they intended to try e-cigarettes in the next 6 months.

Worryingly, 45% of adolescents were susceptible to future vaping.

Those who had a positive attitude toward e-cigarettes and believed vaping helps with emotion regulation were more likely to be at risk.

Those who believed e-cigarettes use is ok for people their age and who had at least one family member or close friend who vapes were also at risk.

“Given susceptibility to e-cigarette use is a strong predictor of vaping uptake, efforts are urgently needed to reduce risk among young Australians”, said Dr Jongenelis.

“Addressing perceptions relating to the benefits of vaping on emotion regulation appears important. Communications could highlight that sustained e-cigarette use has actually been found to worsen depressive symptoms among adolescents”.

“We also need to be doing more to protect our children from harmful industry advertising by introducing strict regulations on the online marketing of e-cigarettes.”

“With the online sale of many vaping products still legal, online retailers are describing e-liquids using terms such as ‘delicious’ and ‘refreshing’.”

“They are also making claims that vaping ‘makes you feel calm’, ‘relaxes the mind and body’, and ‘is mood-boosting’.”

“These retailers have shown that they are not at all responsible and cannot be trusted. We must prohibit online sales and the use of positive language to describe e-cigarettes.”

This research was funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council and published in the International Journal of Drug Policy.

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Danielle Galvin