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Adolescents and Adult Activities

The making of smokers

Youth and vaping

“Every 10 minutes, two Canadian teenagers start smoking cigarettes; one of them will lose her life because of it.” -Health Canada (22)

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VAEP does not condone youth using any product intended for adults.

“…nurses have a responsibility to provide non-judgmental care to individuals and families affected by substance use, regardless of setting, income, age, gender identity, ethnicity or other socio-demographic characteristics.” 23

Vaping exists today because of the demand from smokers who want a harm reduction option. However, the evidence suggests that vaping seems to be having an unintended consequence which is that vaping may be interrupting the uptake of youth smoking. Vaping may be preventing the next generation of smokers.

The adolescent brain is more susceptible to addiction than the adult brain.

Studies have shown that because of the development in the brain during adolescent years, teens are more susceptible to continue impulsive behaviours and develop dependence than adults. 24, 12, 25

Research has also shown that teens are less receptive the the abstinence-only approach and find a harm reduction approach more helpful. 26

We have made some suggestions for an approach that may be more beneficial to this age group than the current fear-provoking narrative in our Harm Reduction section at the end of this page.

Grade twelve smokers are the next adult smokers.

A 35% drop in grade 12 smoking rates is very significant!

If vaping was a gateway to smoking, we would see an increase in the smoking rates. Instead the youth smoking rates are dropping. This suggests that vaping may be reducing the uptake of smoking in youth.

In 2017, 11% of grade 7-12 students had one puff or more 30 days and 1.2% vaped daily.

In 2015, 17.7% grades 6-12 students had at least one puff from a vape. In 2017, 22.8% grade 7-12 students had at least one puff from a vape; an increase of 28.8% in two years. 9, 27

35% of grade 10-12 students have ever smoked and 33% have ever vaped. (27)

Is there a smoking epidemic?

This graph shows a 16 year history of current smoking rates of 15-19 year olds over a 16 year period.

Within 3 years of vaping being introduced, the smoking rate decreased at a level not seen in 14 years!  9, 27, 28, 29

In Great Britain, vaping is recognized as a significant harm reduction strategy and is promoted by Public Health England. (30)

Yet, less than 2% of 11-18 year olds vape more than once a week. 31

This indicates that promoting harm reduction and allowing it to be attractive to smokers such as allowing all sorts of flavours (adults like flavours) does not create increased usage among youth.

'Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes' from the national Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (32)

This quote illustrates the potential not only for current smokers but to prevent the next generation of smokers. 32

The graph illustrates the significant drop in American youth smoking rates since vaping has been introduced in the USA. 33

A small percentage of never smokers are abusing nicotine salts eliquids, mainly with pod devices such as JUUL. (34)

‘Nicotine salts’ are nicotine with additives that lower the pH level to crate a faster absorption rate than just pure nicotine. 35 This process is part of tobacco cigarette production and the rapid absorption of nicotine into the blood is what the smoker is accustomed to. 8

Nicotine  salts eliquids are an alternative for the current smoker, usually a heavy smoker, when pure nicotine is not enough to transition off of tobacco smoke.

A very small percentage of youth that have never smoked are abusing nicotine salts to achieve a ‘heady’. A heady is the physiological experience of too much nicotine such as a head rush, nausea or racing heart rate.

When youth have difficulty coping with their stressors, some will seek to escape reality with drug use as evidence by 40% or grade 10-12 students have participated in high risk alcohol consumption in the last year. 9 This type of behaviour indicates the youth may benefit from resources that can help them cope such as support groups or anger management courses.

When it comes to substance use, teens find the abstinence only approach to be unhelpful, yet they find a harm reduction approach to be supportive. 26 Instead of the fear-based abstinence-only narrative, perhaps a more beneficial strategy would be a program that provides these youth with resources to cope with their stressors and prevent addiction.

More info on vaping.

Visit our Shareables collections to learn more.

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