Why are Young People vaping by Naomi
Unless you’ve been living under a rock – I can almost guarantee you know someone who vapes! This is despite the NHS website stating, “Vaping is not recommended for non-smokers and young people because it is not completely harmless”. In recent years many people, myself included, have been left wondering –
“Why are so many young people vaping?”.
I know that personally an increasing number of my peers have acquired a vaping habit… but strangely it’s not just the individuals who were previously smokers. Many of these people were non-smokers who since have become regular E-cigarette users. Upon further research I found that worryingly the use of vapes by under 18’s has doubled between 2021 and 2022. Reflecting on these statistics it’s evident that children, young people and non-smokers are concerningly being drawn to these flavoured products.
I think the most concerning factor contributing to the widespread success of the E-Cigarette industry is their successful marketing strategies. As this includes marketing targeted towards children and young people. One of the most popular E-cigarette companies in the UK ‘JUUL’ has paid for advertisement slots on children’s television channels like, Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. In addition to this JUUL had an “influencer scheme” where the E-cigarette giant actively hired influencers to promote their products to their audiences of children and young people. With Generation Z generally having lots of screen time and time spent on social media, we could be more susceptible to targeted advertisements like this than ever before!
The advertisement to young people is particularly scary as there isn’t much legislation in place to protect young people from being drawn to using vapes. It IS illegal for shops to sell vapes to under 18’s but these under 18’s are clearly still being tempted to use vapes and acquiring them through other means. Some of you reading this may have even been tempted to vape, but please take this blog as your sign to refrain from doing so!
Furthermore, the advertisement of E-cigarettes is largely unrestricted. This has allowed E-cigarette brands like JUUL to continuously focus their advertisements on the younger generations. Utilizing subtle tactics like advertising their fruit flavoured E-cigarettes over 3x as much as their other flavours.
San Francisco has completely banned all E-Cigarettes, citing an “epidemic” of vaping as their reasoning for the ban. I think it will be interesting to see if the UK government decides to take further legislative action to prevent a similar E-cigarette “epidemic” in young people in the UK.
How addictive are E-cigarettes compared to tobacco cigarettes?
The high nicotine content is what gives E-cigarettes their highly addictive nature and this is very concerning because it is putting young people and non-smokers who use vapes at a high risk of developing a lifelong addiction to the substance. The average tobacco cigarette has 10 – 12mg of nicotine in it. Comparatively an “Elf bar” has the equivalent of 20mg of nicotine.
My advice for anyone who is reading this and already uses vapes is to consider switching to a low nicotine alternative, as this will reduce your risk of developing a serious addiction to the substance and give you the best chance if you decide you would like to quit vaping.
Does vaping carry adverse health risks for children and young people?
Worryingly there are no studies on the long-term effects of vaping. So, these effects remain unconfirmed and uncertain. But we do know that vapes have a high nicotine content which is harmful for developing brains.
A report on the health effects of E-cigarette use in 2021 which was led by academics at King’s College London concluded;
– In the short and medium term, vaping poses a small fraction of the risks of smoking.
– However, vaping is NOT risk-free, particularly for people who have never smoked.
I hope this blog has helped you to understand why so many young people have been drawn to using E-cigarettes in recent years. I strongly urge anyone who may be considering using vapes, or anyone who currently vapes to reconsider. While it may seem like an appealing and accessible coping mechanism for some people – there are many other effective and healthier ways to de-stress; I personally recommend practicing mindfulness or exercising to burn off nervous energy!