Role for primary care in cutting kids’ vaping

2 minute read

Over a quarter of children aged 14-17 have vaped, with prevalence highest in non-binary children.

A fifth of young people in Australia have vaped in the last 12 months and 6% are current regular users, a study into e-cigarette use has found.

Although recent research has suggested vaping rates are on the rise, many of the sample sizes have been small and there has been little research into variation by demographic factors, according to the authors.

The study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, surveyed over 4200 students aged 14-17 from 70 schools across NSW, Queensland and WA from July to December 2022.

Over a quarter of all responders had used a vape in their lifetime, with the average age of first use being 14 years old.

While socioeconomic status and remoteness did not affect whether participants were current users of had partaken in the past 12 months, prevalence was higher for boys and non-binary participants than girls.

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

The average age of study participants was 16 years old and almost 50% were girls.

“Our findings indicate that strategies for preventing the uptake and reducing the use of e-cigarettes by Australian adolescents are needed,” the authors wrote.

“A multilevel approach with components at the individual (e.g. primary health care screening and intervention), school (e.g. normative education and resistance skills training) and community levels (e.g. e-cigarette control policies, media campaigns) would be appropriate.”

The study’s lead researcher Dr Lauren Gardner called on the primary care system to support young people.

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

Medical Journal of Australia 2023, online 22 August

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