Clarifying Australia’s youth vaping figures
Mar 31, 2023
There have recently been several alarmist media articles describing large increases in youth vaping. While there is no doubt that there has been an increase in youth vaping, some of the figures being put forward are misleading. Associate Professor Coral Gardner, who leads the Nicotine and Tobacco Regulatory Science Research Group has published an article titled “Clarifying Australia’s youth vaping figures” to correct the record. Associate Professor Gardner points out that one news story claimed that surveys indicated “65% of adolescents and 39% of young adults report using e-cigarettes despite having never smoked.” Yet the correct figure for “ever use” amongst those who have never tried a tobacco cigarette is actually 6.1% - less than a tenth of that reported. Data also indicates that of the 6.1% who said they tried an e-cigarette before trying a tobacco cigarette, most don’t go on to progress to regular use of e-cigarettes. While vaping amongst young people has increased, alarmist media reporting contributes to a moral panic which is unlikely to result in evidence-based solutions. Instead, we are at risk of forgetting everything we know about responding effectively to youth substance use, and falling back on strategies that don’t work and may even make the situation worse.
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