Use of vaping devices doubles among high…

  • By Jake Chung / Staff writer

The use of vaping devices and e-cigarettes among the nation’s junior, senior and vocational-high school students has more than doubled within a span of three years, the Health and Promotion Administration (HPA) said yesterday, underscoring the rampancy of vaping devices on campuses.

Vaping among young people increased from 1.9 percent in 2018 to 3.9 percent last year among junior-high school students, and from 3.4 percent to 8.8 percent among senior and vocational-high school students, figures released by the agency showed.

The data showed that the average use of vaping devices among young people climbed to 6.6 percent from 2.7 percent in the past three years.

Photo: Chiu Chih-jou, Taipei Times

The increase means more than 79,000 teenagers are using such devices, posing a threat to their health, HPA Tobacco Control Division head Chen Miao-hsin (陳妙心) said.

The survey also showed that from 2008 to last year, the number of junior-high school students who smoke cigarettes dropped by 71.8 percent, while the figure for senior and vocational-high school students plunged 51.4 percent, from 14.8 percent in 2007 to 7.2 percent last year.

Among junior-high school students, the number who smoke tobacco as well as use vaping devices increased to 1.5 percent from 0.8 percent, while the number among senior-high students rose to 4.9 percent from 1.9 percent.

The primary reason teenagers cited for vaping was peer pressure, while the second-most cited reason was that vaping smelled or tasted better than cigarettes, the HPA said.

Most vaping devices contain nicotine, which can lead to addiction, HPA Deputy Director Wei Shi-lun (魏璽倫) said, adding that vaping could inhibit young people’s mental and cognitive development.

Wei said that the Internet is a primary channel through which young people obtain the devices, but the HPA does not have jurisdiction over online platforms.

“We can only hope to persuade the platforms to consider their social responsibility and remove the products from their platform or forward the case to the local health administration bureaus,” Wei said.

Wei urged the public and legislators to support the HPA’s draft amendments to the Tobacco Hazards Prevention Act (菸害防制法), which would place a general ban on all e-cigarettes and vaping devices, as well as flavored smokes.

The draft amendment, if passed, would also raise the legal smoking age to 20.

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