More government investment is needed to help adolescents stop vaping, and from taking it up in the first place, the results of an Australian study have found.

Urgent efforts are needed to reduce the uptake and use of e-cigarettes in Australian adolescents, with a study finding a fifth of young people had vaped in the past 12 months.

One of the largest surveys of e-cigarette use, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, examined vaping trends among young people in three states.

The majority of the students who took part in the survey attended independent schools and were living in major cities.

The researchers from the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use, at the University of Sydney, invited 4445 students aged 14–17 years from 70 schools in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia to take part in the survey.

Urgent efforts needed to reduce vaping in adolescents - Featured Image
E-cigarette use in the past twelve months was reported by 20.4% of the 444 students surveyed (IngoSStar / Shutterstock)

Among the 4204 respondents, the study found that e-cigarette use had become fairly common among adolescents. 

“We found that 26% of respondents had used an e-cigarette, with the mean age of first use being 14 years,” Dr Lauren Gardner said, the study’s lead researcher and a research fellow at the Matilda Centre for Research in Mental Health and Substance Use. 

“E-cigarette use in the past twelve months was reported by 20.4% of respondents, and current regular use by 5.7% of respondents.”

It found that the prevalence of use in the past twelve months was higher for boys and non-binary participants than for girls.

The prevalence of current regular use was higher for non-binary participants and those who preferred to not report gender than for girls.

Socio-economic status and remoteness did not influence the prevalence of current use or use in the past twelve months.

The authors call for a multilevel approach to tackle the problem.

“We need more support for young people through the primary care system,” Dr Gardner said.

“The delivery of evidence-based prevention programs and resistance skills training in schools will also be critical.

“Additionally, support needs to happen at a government level, such as through e-cigarette control policies, investment in prevention and cessation support, and communication campaigns.”

Read the Research letter in the Medical Journal of Australia. 

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