One in five Dutch young people aged 12 to 25 have used an e-cigarette in the past year, according to the new youth monitor on tobacco and nicotine products from the Trimbos Institute. The study found that one in ten children between the ages of 12 and 14 use a flavored vape every month, while nearly a quarter of those between the ages of 15 and 17 also reported using e-cigarettes.
However, this increase in vaping among young people is causing concern. A significant proportion of young people who vape also smoke regular cigarettes, raising worries among experts. Physician-epidemiologist Esther Croes expressed her concerns about this trend, noting that it is not beneficial for young people to experiment with e-cigarettes instead of traditional cigarettes. Croes emphasized that two-thirds of young people who vape also smoke, exposing themselves to the harmful substances found in both products.
Croes also highlighted the dangers associated with the contents of current vapes. Many e-cigarettes contain nicotine salt, a form of nicotine that is not harsh on the throat and quickly reaches the brain. Croes explained that this makes young teenagers susceptible to addiction, which can disrupt brain structure and lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and concentration disorders. In severe cases, nicotine poisoning can occur, causing dizziness or even epileptic attacks.
Earlier this year, a collective of doctors raised alarm about vaping influencers on TikTok. The doctors’ campaign garnered significant attention from concerned parents, who felt powerless against the cunning marketing tactics employed by the tobacco industry. These tactics often involve using enticing colors, flavors, and scents to lure young people into vaping.
A subsequent study called Doctors Sound the Alarm revealed that one-third of parents regularly discuss vaping with their children, while 18 percent suspect their child may be vaping. In response, doctors are launching a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of vaping among young people and offer support to parents.
To address the growing problem, Croes believes that schools should implement a ban on smoking or vaping on the premises and provide information about the risks. Croes emphasized the need for children to realize that they are being manipulated by the tobacco industry and that addiction robs them of their freedom.
In an effort to curb vaping among young people, the sale of flavored vapes will be prohibited starting from January 1. State Secretary Blokhuis previously stated that e-cigarettes often act as a gateway to smoking traditional cigarettes for young people, and flavored e-cigarettes further lower the barrier for vaping. Furthermore, since July of this year, online sales of both tobacco and e-cigarettes have been banned.
The increasing prevalence of young people vaping in the Netherlands has prompted action from experts and policymakers who are determined to protect the health and well-being of the nation’s youth.]
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