Stressed teens are hiking up vaping numbers

The actions of parents who are misinformed add to the concerning numbers

Stress is the number one reason for vaping, a recent study found. File photo.
Stress is the number one reason for vaping, a recent study found. File photo.
Image: 123RF/Milinz

Vaping has become a notable trend in South Africa, specially among the youth, prompting discussions among policymakers, health professionals and the public.

A recent KLA YourView poll shed light on the motivations behind vaping. Respondents shared that stress relief (41.5%) was the main reason, indicating a need for an alternative coping mechanism. While vapes were intended to help cigarette smokers ween off their habit, only 38.2% used the device as a strategy to reduce or quit smoking.

Perceived health benefits and following fads held 36.6%, and 36.4% from those who also associated their smoking trends with vaping as they believed vaping is less harmful than traditional smoking or found a “cool factor” to the habit.

A total of 31.3% of respondents felt the products were accessible and 30.6% considered vaping to be more affordable than traditional tobacco products.

Findings from KLA's poll on the vaping habits of South Africans.
Findings from KLA's poll on the vaping habits of South Africans.
Image: Supplied

Other factors included peer pressure, family influence and advertising at 26.4%, 22.8% and 21.9% respectively.

recent study conducted by the University of Cape Town (UCT) Lung Institute highlights that a significant number of South African pupils are vaping, with almost 7,000 reported cases. The study shows a discordant pattern across school grades, with 26.5% of pupils in grade 12 admitting to vaping.

The percentage declines slightly in lower grades, with 17.4% in grade 11, 13% in grade 10 and 10.8% in grade 9, according to the findings.

The statistics point to a growing inclination among the youth towards vaping, raising alarms about its potential health implications and the necessity for parental vigilance.

The study by the UCT Lung Institute also found stress was a key driver behind the rising trend of vaping among “affluent South African youth”. This highlights the role of stress, peer influence and perceived societal acceptance in encouraging vaping among teenagers.

Key findings suggest despite being from well-resourced backgrounds, the teenagers are turning to vaping as a misguided stress relief mechanism. Confirming this, the poll found 41% of participants, including adults and youth, vape primarily to alleviate stress.

Additionally, sociocultural pressures, including the need for peer acceptance and parental attitudes, further compound the issue. Some parents are providing vaping devices to their children, mistakenly believing it to be a safer alternative to smoking or drug use.


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