More girls vaping


While we once worried about teens picking up a cigarette, the concern today is the spike in ecigarette uptake among adolescents – particularly among girls.

The devices, said Nicotine Addiction Research and Collaborating Group (NARCC) tobacco control researcher Dr Siti Idayu Hasan, are becoming trendy and fashionable among youths. According to the latest National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), she said a staggering 14.9% of teens had experimented with, or regularly used ecigarettes, a sharp rise from 9.8% in 2017.

“More alarming, vaping is twice as prevalent among teenage boys as smoking, and for teenage girls, this figure is nearly fourfold,” she said.Cautioning that the prevalence of ecigarette and vape use has doubled among female adolescents since 2017, the NHMS 2022 report found a significant increase in the prevalence of ecigarette and vape, indicating a switch in the preference for nicotine delivery among adolescents in Malaysia, as compared to five years ago. But the worrying trend is not unique to Malaysia, NARCC deputy coordinator Assoc Prof Dr Nur Amani Ahmad Tajuddin noted.

Its prevalence among high school students in the United States rose from 11.7% in 2017 to 20.8% in 2018, while South Korea showed an increase from 2.2% to 2.7% in the same period, she added.Dr Nur Amani said the argument by certain quarters that at least with ecigarettes, adolescents are experimenting with something “less harmful” than traditional tobacco cigarettes, does not hold water.

“Studies have shown that adolescents end up becoming dual users – using both ecigarettes and tobacco cigarettes at the same time – the younger they start the habit,” she said, adding that there were recent reports of a 16-year-old girl dying from the effects of vaping, as well as three teens being gang-raped after they were offered an ecigarette with “unknown” chemicals.

A smokefree generation requires participation and dedication from all sectors, including family institutions, education sector, politicians, government and non-governmental organisations, the report read.

Dr Nur Amani said the argument by certain quarters that at least with ecigarettes, adolescents are experimenting with something “less harmful” than traditional tobacco cigarettes, does not hold water.

“Many studies have shown that adolescents end up becoming dual users - using both cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes at the same time, the younger they start the habit.

“Adolescents who dual users are motivated to use e-cigarettes as they are easier to conceal, resulting in them bringing the device to school without fear,” she said, adding that there were recent reports of a 16-year-old girl dying from the effects of vaping as well as three teens being gang raped after they were offered a type of ecigarette with “unknown” chemicals.

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