24th August 2023

Are we starting to see the impact of vaping?

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Teenagers and young adults who use vapes are experiencing increased wheezing and shortness of breath, a new study has found.

The study, which was conducted in California, saw more than 2000 students, which an average age of 17, complete a survey on their use of tobacco products and e-cigarettes. People who had recently used an e-cigarette were 81% and 78% more likely to experience wheezing and shortness of breath respectively that those who had never used a vape.

Respiratory symptoms such as a daily cough lasting for three months or more, bronchitis in the last 12 months, or congestion or phlegm without having a cough were also commonly experienced by vapers.

Speaking about the results on Monday’s episode of This Morning, Dr Sara Kayat, warned about the dangers of vaping, as well as spike in young people vaping and lack of marketing regulations.

According to ASH, the proportion of children experimenting with vaping had grown by 50% year on year, from one in thirteen to one in nine. More than half of all children reported seeing e-cigarettes being promoted, and online where nearly a third report e-cigarette promotion.

In 2023, 20.5% of children had tried vaping. Among 11–15-year-olds, 15% have ever tried vaping, compared to 34% of 16–17-year-olds and 38% of 18-year-olds. The figures for current use are 4.6% among those aged 11-15, 15% for 16-17 and 18% for 18-year-olds.

Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. She fears we are sleepwalking into a new health epidemic:

“We have always been concerned about the use of e-cigarettes amongst younger people and non-smokers and the questionable marketing techniques being deployed in promoting these products.

“E-cigarettes are designed to help people quit smoking but, as latest figures indicate, more people are trying vaping having never smoked and the alluring packaging and flavourings are, in our opinion, influencing this behaviour.

Whilst there are differences in how e-cigarettes are regulated in the UK and US, the findings of this latest study should be setting off alarms bells as our young people are potentially seriously damaging their lungs.

“We simply do not know the long-term effect vaping may have on people but what we are starting to see is these products having more immediate consequences on our health. Action must be taken quickly – such as stricter marketing regulations – if we are to avoid another health crisis.”