Working in the drug space, we’re used to misinformation clouding scientific evidence and influencing the public debate.
And judging by much of the rhetoric over the past few years, the topic of vaping hasn’t been immune.
That’s one of the reasons ASH’s new Year 10 Survey, visit external website, released today, is useful. It provides a solid statistical evidence base of what is happening with smoking and vaping amongst Year 10 students, which can then help to inform our response.
So what does the latest data show?
Firstly, it shows that teen smoking has fallen to record low levels, which is excellent.
Daily smoking amongst Year 10 students has fallen from 2% in 2019 to 1.3% in 2021, while daily smoking amongst Māori Year 10 students fell 40% in the period (to 3.4% in 2021). These results show Aotearoa’s strong smoking regulation efforts are paying off.
These declines in smoking have been accompanied by an increase in Year 10 students who vape daily, from 3.1% in 2019 to 9.6% in 2021.
No one wants to see young people who have never smoked take up vaping regularly.
However, the data shows that a lot of youth vaping can be put down to something that most people who have been a teenager can relate to – experimentation.
Out of the 42.7% of Year 10 students who have ever tried vaping, 39.8% said they vaped ‘just to give it a try’.
We need to be cautious about mixing up experimentation with dependent use as the two require different approaches.
Drugfoundation.org – 2022-02-28.