Global teen vaping is low, new study finds

A new study published today in the scientific journal Addiction found that about 8.6% of teens reported using e-cigarettes (vaping) in the past 30 days, but only 1.7% engaged in frequent vaping. This suggests that most teens who vape experiment but don’t make it a habit.

Researchers from the University of Queensland (Australia) wanted to estimate as much as possible of the global prevalence of teenage vaping. Researchers analyzed data from 151,960 adolescents in 47 countries who participated in the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Youth Tobacco Survey between 2015 and 2018. The weighted global prevalence of vaping among teens and frequent vaping in the past 30 days were 8.6% and 1.7%. respectively.

Lead author Dr Gary Chan said: “There are two likely explanations for the low levels of frequent vaping among young people. First, e-cigarettes are relatively new and are often sold in colorful packages with very appetizing flavors that might appeal to teenagers, leading to experimentation but not continued use. Second, while some e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, teens can also vape nicotine-free or low-nicotine e-cigarettes and avoid becoming addicted. Future WHO surveys should ask participants to disclose whether nicotine is in the vaping liquids they use.

The researchers also wanted to test the association between the implementation of World Health Organization (WHO) tobacco control policies and adolescent vaping. In 2008, the WHO introduced the POWER policy package, with six policies to reduce tobacco use: surveillance, smoke-free environments, cessation programs, health warnings, advertising bans and taxation. The implementation of these policies has reduced tobacco consumption; however, it is unclear whether these policies have had an impact on youth adoption of e-cigarettes.

Using data from the 44 countries where implementation data was available, the researchers found inconclusive evidence that the implementation of five of the POWER policies were associated with decreased vaping among adolescents. The implementation of the sixth policy – higher taxes on tobacco products – has been curiously associated with After teen vaping. This suggests that some teens in countries with higher tobacco taxes may be replacing cigarettes with e-cigarettes.

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For publishers:

This document is free to read for one month after the embargo is lifted from the Wiley Online Library: or by contacting Jean O’Reilly, editorial manager, Addiction[email protected]

To speak with lead author Dr. Gary Chan, please contact him at the University of Queensland by phone (+61 7 344 32533) or email ([email protected]).

Full quote from the article: Chan GCK, Gartner C, Lim C, Sun T, Hall W, Connor J, Stjepanović D, and Leung J (2022) Association between tobacco control policy implementation and adolescent vaping in 44 low-income countries . Addiction:doi:10.1111/add.15892

Funding: The GCKC was funded by a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Fellowship (GNT1176137). CG was funded by the NHMRC Center of Research Excellence grant. CL was funded by the National Council of Health and Medical Research Graduate Scholarship (GNT2005317). TS, WH and JC were funded by the Department of Health, Australia. Donors have no role at any stage of this study.

Declaration of interests: The authors declare no competing interests.

Addiction is a monthly international scientific journal publishing peer-reviewed research reports on alcohol, substances, tobacco and gambling, as well as editorials and other discussion articles. Property of the Society for the Study of Addiction, it has been in continuous publication since 1884.

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