E-cigarette use among children increasing

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New research has found that girls as young as 11 are using e-cigarettes because they find them appealing. The use of these devices is widespread among young children.

The authors of the study have linked this to the fact that the devices are easily obtainable from shops, parents and friends.

The report which was undertaken on behalf of Public Health Wales also discovered that young girls with low aspirations who do not take part in extra-curricular activities or sports are the ones most likely to be attracted to e-cigarettes.

Researchers discovered that children who have parents who are smokers are more likely to start the habit. It was also found that smoking rates were much higher among girls in deprived communities.

Andrew Jones who is the Executive Director of Public Health for Betsi Cadwaladr, the health board for North Wales, said around 2% of girls aged 11 to 12 smoke, with the rate rising to 5% in certain communities.

It was found that the awareness of e-cigarettes and its use was quite common in some areas. The researchers said the majority of girls who participated in the research were able to name at least five of the different vapour flavours. Some of them were unaware of the nicotine contained in the device and most were of the opinion that e-cigarettes were ‘not as bad’ as traditional cigarettes.

The authors of the study are calling for education programmes to ensure that young people obtain accurate information regarding e-cigarettes and tobacco. They have also recommended that controls be put in place regarding the sale of these devices to children and young people.

The results of the research were released days after other health experts stated that e-cigarettes should undergo stricter controls to ensure its safety. In excess of 100 experts delivered a letter to the World Health Organisation stating their concerns about what the unregulated devices may contain. Their fears include false and unproven claims being made by manufacturers, which are misleading the public into believing that the devices are harmless and can be used as an effective method to stop smoking traditional cigarettes.

A recent study done by scientists at the University of California in San Francisco suggested that e-cigarettes may be responsible for a new generation of nicotine addicts. The study showed that teenagers who make use of e-cigarettes are more prone to smoking traditional cigarettes and are less like to stop smoking.

The popularity of e-cigarettes is on the increase as it is being promoted as an effective method to quit smoking. Scientists have found that the advertising methods that are utilised are not only encouraging young people to use the devices, but it is also promoting smoking traditional cigarettes among young people.

Image Credit: Lindsay Fox

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