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Youth vaping still a Pacific problem

The very cigarette device that health experts introduced to reduce the consumption of tobacco has had a detrimental effect on some Pacific youth cultures.

An initial investigation from 2015 until 2019 of a list of targeted countries in the Western Pacific had found that vaping was becoming an epidemic in both Guam and Niue.

The lead author of the paper for the Tobacco Induced Diseases medical journal says the trends have proved three years on to be some cause for concern.

“The original intention of vaping was to help people quit smoking, but the reality is in young people, it’s getting them nicotine addicted and making them susceptible to future cigarette/tobacco use,” Elizabeth Dennison, of Georgetown University, said.

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The case study was focused on the e-smoking habits of 13- to-15-year-olds in the Cook Islands, Fiji, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Vanuatu.

In another paper on the topic that will be released early next year, researchers have been examining how often Western Pacific youth vape per month and how susceptible vapers are to the future use of cigarette and tobacco.

Ms Dennison felt regulation plays a key part behind the sizeable discrepancies between many of the Pacific islands.

Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States, had an “alarmingly” high rate of more than 81 per cent of youth vaping that had followed American trends of high levels of the practice.

youth vaping pacific problem
Vaping among youths has stood out in two Pacific nations.

Nearly three out of every Niue four youths were found to vape in the tiny self-governing state of less than 2000 people.

“I am unsure of why the high rates in Niue, but I know, since the results of the survey came out, the government has taken action and banned them,” she said.

Examples were found that as soon as countries banned the sale, importation and use of e-cigarettes, the rates would unremarkably dramatically drop.

Five other Pacific countries after Niue, which were not named in the investigation, have made vaping illegal.

The investigation found that marketing has played a significant part behind vaping “skyrocketing” in recent years.

“It’s evident in the promotion of these products in social media in the e-liquid flavours,” she said.

“So, young people are vulnerable to these marketing tactics.

“Other studies have shown that those who vape are significantly more likely to use a cigarette in the future compared to a non-vaper.

“So, yes, vaping is a gateway to smoking.”

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