Use of e-cigarettes widespread among children
A report by Public Health Wales has found that e-cigarettes are becoming increasingly “widespread” among children, with girls as young as 11 finding the devices “highly appealing”.
Research also showed that it tends to be children with low aspirations – who do not take part in sports or after-school activities – that will smoke e-cigarettes.
As a result, study authors are now calling for a review of education programmes to ensure young people and children are correctly informed of the dangers of e-cigarettes as well as tobacco.
They also recommend the introduction of control measures for the sale of e-cigarettes to children – both online and in shops.
The report findings were reached following an investigation on smoking among girls aged 11 and 12 in North Wales.
Overall it was found that 2% of young girls are smokers, with prevalence rising to 5% in some areas – particularly deprived communities.
Significantly, some of the girls involved in the study admitted to using e-cigarettes.
Andrew Jones, executive director of public health for Betsi Cadwaladr, the health board for North Wales, said: ‘Most of the girls who took part in focus groups could name at least five different flavours of [e-cigarette] vapours which include strawberry milkshake, gummy bear and bubble gum.
‘Some were not aware that e-cigarettes could have nicotine in them and most felt that e-cigarettes were “not as bad” as cigarettes.’
This news follows the recent submission of over 100 letters to the World Health Organisation (WHO) in which experts argued e-cigarettes should be subjected to more stringent controls to ensure they do not cause any harm to users.
Many fear the unregulated devices may contain a number of harmful substances, and that manufacturers are ‘making false and unproven claims’ – misleading the public into thinking the products are a healthier substitute for cigarettes.
Significantly, one study from the University of California, San Francisco, supports this claim. Scientists said that the promotion of e-cigarettes as a way to help people quit smoking is “not only encouraging youth to smoke them, but also it is promoting regular cigarette smoking among youth.’
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