Teenagers are more likely to vape if their parent

Teenagers whose parents are smokers are 55% more likely to try e-cigarettes, according to a study presented at the European Respiratory Society’s international congress in Barcelona, ​​Spain [1]. In a large study of Irish teenagers, researchers also found that the proportion of those who tried e-cigarettes increased significantly. [2] and that although boys are more likely to use e-cigarettes, the rate of use among girls is increasing faster [3].

Researchers point to the risks of nicotine addiction and call for more effective regulation to protect children and teens.

The research was carried out by a team from the TobaccoFree Research Institute Ireland (TFRI), in Dublin. They looked at data on 6,216 young people aged 17 to 18, including information on whether their parents smoked as children. Teenagers were asked if they smoked or used e-cigarettes.

The study showed that teens whose parents smoked were about 55% more likely to have tried e-cigarettes and about 51% more likely to have tried smoking.

The team has also combined multiple Irish datasets to provide the most comprehensive analyzes of adolescent e-cigarette use in Ireland, with information on over 10,000 Irish teenagers (aged 16-17) , to examine the total number of adolescents trying or regularly using e-cigarettes and how this is changing over time. This showed that the proportion of those who had tried e-cigarettes increased from 23% in 2014 to 39% in 2019.

The top reasons teens gave for trying e-cigarettes were curiosity (66%) and that their friends were vaping (29%). Only 3% said it was to quit smoking. The proportion of those who said they had never used tobacco when they first tried e-cigarettes increased from 32% in 2015 to 68% in 2019.

IRTF Chief Executive Professor Luke Clancy explained: “We have seen an increasing use of e-cigarettes among Irish teenagers and this is a trend that is emerging elsewhere in the world. There is a perception that vaping is a better alternative to smoking, but our research shows that this does not apply to teens who generally have not tried cigarettes before e-cigarettes. This indicates that, for teens, vaping is a pathway into nicotine addiction, rather than out of it.

Finally, the researchers looked in detail at data from 3,421 16-year-olds to see if there were any differences between boys and girls. Although boys are more likely to try or use e-cigarettes, researchers found that rates rose faster among girls, with 23% reporting having tried e-cigarettes in 2015 and 39% in 2019, and 10 % saying they currently use e-cigarettes. e-cigarettes in 2015, rising to 18% in 2019. Researchers found that having friends who smoke and having less parental supervision were two major factors in adolescent use of e-cigarettes, more in boys than in girls.

Doctoral student Ms Salome Sunday told Congress: “We can see that parents and friends have an influence on teens’ decisions to try e-cigarettes and that’s important because those are factors we can try to change. . However, governments must play their part by passing laws to protect children and young people. We already do this with smoking and we need to do the same with vaping.

Lead researcher Dr Joan Hanafin added: “We can see that the number of teenagers using e-cigarettes is changing rapidly, so we need to continue to monitor the situation in Ireland and around the world. We also plan to study social media to understand how it influences the vaping behavior of girls and boys.

Professor Jonathan Grigg is chairman of the European Respiratory Society’s Tobacco Control Committee and was not involved in the research. He says: “These findings are worrying, not just for teenagers in Ireland, but for families around the world. We already know that children of parents who smoke are more likely to start smoking. This study suggests that teens are also influenced by smoking parents to start using e-cigarettes and become addicted to nicotine.

“This work indicates that more teenagers are trying e-cigarettes and not using them to help them quit smoking. This is important because we know that e-cigarettes are not harmless. The effects of nicotine addiction are well established and we are finding that e-cigarettes can damage the lungs, blood vessels and brain. We must do more to protect children and adolescents from these harms. »

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