E-Cigarette use amongst adolescents/underage users has always been something that’s been a problem, and unfortunately, the problem has been heightened somewhat due to the sudden popularity increase of Disposable Vape devices.
Many countries have started adopting bans on specific areas of Vaping in an effort to combat the numbers of adolescents using E-Cigarettes from increasing even further. These changes in legislations range anywhere from increasing the legal age limit to be able to buy vaping products, to banning flavoured vape juices in a bid to make it less appealing to a younger audience.
There has been a lot of controversies surrounding these bans in the countries trying to enforce them, as while they are preserving and protecting the youth of the country by not starting to vape and form an addiction to nicotine, they’re in turn penalising adult vapers who have managed to overcome their possibly long standing smoking habit by using an e-cigarette and vape juice that doesn’t taste the same as tobacco, which they have broken away from.
Recent studies have started filtering out over the last few months looking at the youth vaping rates across the globe, and surprisingly, the numbers have already started to dwindle down on their own accord without the need for bans to be implemented. I’m going to take a look into these studies and give more detail about the current state of affairs of youth vaping across the globe.
The World Health Organisations stance on Youth Vaping
The World Health Organisation (WHO) have always been anti-vaping campaigners, and have published numerous articles and publications slamming vaping, but the flaw with what they write is it’s largely missing any scientific proven evidence to back up their claims.
Their most recent publication on E-Cigarettes was originally published in 2021, and was then revised in May 2022, making several bold claims about vaping and really highlighting the fact of how anti-vaping they are.
They make points about vaping being harmful to health, and causing lung injuries, but failing to mention the crucial part that these injuries were caused by Vitamin E Acetate being included in illegal THC vape cartridges, not your standard run of the mill shop bought vaping products.
But what we are here to discuss is the claims that is printed in this WHO publication regarding youth vaping.
“The consumption of nicotine in children and adolescents has deleterious impacts on brain development, leading to long-term consequences for brain development and potentially leading to learning and anxiety disorders.”
But this is largely false, as what they are basing their statement off is minimal lab experiments that was carried out on Rodents. A seperate report published by the Cohcrane showed that the effects of nicotine on the brain would only be seen in generational adults, not adolescents, and this would have been caused by the adults smoking cigarettes. Because it would have taken a long time to progress and take an affect, way before Vaping was even introduced into the market.
” Nicotine is highly addictive, and some evidence suggests that never-smoker minors who use ENDS can double their chance of starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes later in life.”
Whilst this statement has the smallest fraction of truth in it, being the fact that Nicotine is highly addictive, but Vaping does not cause a “gateway” into smoking cigarettes.
This has been proven by different studies and reports printed over the last year or so. What could constitute to being a gateway would be being around smokers, such as family or friends, mental health, and social environments. Vaping is not a gateway into smoking!
Is there really a youth vaping “epidemic” happening?
The World Health Organisation strongly believe and declare that there is a youth vaping “epidemic” happening right now across the globe, and action needs to be taken to stop these levels from increasing, and this is where countries are taking their stance from and creating their own rulings and legislations, without actually taking a look at the bigger picture.
As I mentioned, youth vaping numbers have boomed quite considerably ever since the inception of Disposable vaping products. This stems right back to 2017, when JUUL was introduced on to the global market, and effectively began all these problems.
At the absolute peak of popularity, the number of adolescents using disposable pod systems, such as JUULs was at a very scary level in the USA, and continued to be at worrying numbers for several years to follow.
Recent surveys conducted in the last year here in the UK has shown that Disposable Vape devices, such as Elfbars, have constituted to a rise in youth/adolescents using them, with the number rising from 7% to 52%, just over SEVEN times more growth year on year, which is a considerably worrying number I think you’ll agree.
But what is interesting is the youth vaping numbers have started decreasing by themselves, especially in America, which I’m not going to take a look at in more detail.
Youth Vaping numbers have fallen by themselves
There’s been quite a few different studies and reports released over the last few years which takes a close detailed look at the youth vaping statistics across the globe, and they make for interesting reading as the numbers themselves have actually started decreasing over the years, without the need for bans and new legislations which I find interesting.
In America, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention carry out a yearly survey called the National Youth Tobacco Survey, which looks at the behaviours and usage of vaping related products amongst adolescents in America. And over the last two years, the numbers have dropped quite significantly pretty much by themselves. It shows that the numbers have dropped by around 60% in the last two years alone, with the most recent survey conducted in 2021 showing that only 3.1% of High school aged youths are using e-cigarettes, whilst only 0.3% of middle school aged students are using them.
As this shows, there was a considerable problem back in 2018/2019 when the JUUL boom was happening, and America really did have a serious problem on their hands, but not a lot of action was taken around then, so why is there now states and cities in America wanting to ban flavoured vape juices and vape products in 2023 to try and combat the apparent youth vaping “epidemic”? Because WHO are still infatuated with making people believe there is still a problem, that’s why.
Coming over closer to home, and Action on Smoking and Health published a survey similar to the one that CDC carried out, looking at youth vaping behaviour in Great Britain in 2021, and it showed that the number of youths who admitted they tried vaping had fallen to 11.2% from 13.9% which was recorded in 2020.
But taking it right back to when this survey was first conducted in 2015, the amount only sat at 11.6% so there’s even been a drop from that original number even though vaping is considerably more popular and “trendy” than it was back in 2015. It makes me wonder what the numbers will look like for 2022, which we will have to wait and see once the survey is conducted and the results are released.
As stated, and what is the basis of this article, is that the number of adolescents using E-Cigarettes has fallen without the need for interjection of the powers that be to create mindless bans on vape juice flavours in a bid to “combat” the youth vaping problems. Let’s look into this in a bit more detail;
Flavoured vape juices are enticing adolescents?
Countries are introducing flavour bans on vape juice with their reasonings being it’s in a bid to combat the youth vaping problems that are happening in the country, but it doesn’t quite add up when looking at the statistics, especially in America.
A couple of different states in America have enforced flavour bans as recently as December 2022, such as California, as well as the state of Ohio. This has been met with widespread criticism, with the anti-ban campaigners in California even taking it to the Supreme Court for an injunction, but unfortunately, they were unsuccessful.
Their reasonings for making this ban a reality is to stop flavoured vape juices being enticing to adolescents, which is one of the things that the WHO have published in their publication I have been referencing.
What I don’t agree with, is that these bans are being implemented after the metaphorical horse has bolted out of the gate. The numbers are coming down, and drastically also, so why are these bans being implemented?
What they aren’t taking into account is that while it may stop vaping being attractive to adolescents, it’s also hurting the adult vapers who heavily rely on flavoured vape juice that has helped them quit smoking and get away from the taste of tobacco they had previously become accustomed to, and now probably are not a fan of.
Pro vaping campaigners have said that this will have a negative impact on adult vapers not being able to get vape juice flavours other than tobacco, which could lead to a relapse to smoking, and in turn would see the smoking rates increase, and the vaping rates decrease. Ultimately leading to the mortality rate from smoking related diseases increase as well, it’s a really vicious cycle that I don’t think has been fully taken into account.
I truthfully believe that these “bans” that are being put in place by countries by hiding behind the reasons of doing it for the sake of protecting the adolescents are a little bit lacklustre when the actual facts and figures are looked at regarding youth vaping statistics.
I think the numbers will continue to decrease themselves naturally as they have been, without the need for these bans being implemented.
This will all obviously depend on whether or not the popularity of specific vaping products continue to rise like they have been, but even as they have done, this hasn’t made the numbers increase drastically in the UK, like what it did in the USA a few years back.
False claims about vaping needs to stop, and I believe that as soon as something negative is printed, there will be a positive response to show how wrong the information is, like what it has been done with this topic courtesy of CAPHRA.
It will be an interesting year for vaping on the whole I believe, and I will continue to keep you updated with the happenings around the world with my articles on this site.