Cape Town – A worryingly high number of matric learners at affluent high schools have started vaping, a concerning new preliminary study by a University of Cape Town (UCT) pulmonologist and researcher shows.
UCT’s Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit’s study comes amid concerns expressed by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) at the rise in the number of young children caught in possession of e-cigarettes in schools.
In a report on the UCT’s Lung Institute website, Smit revealed that more than 25% of matric learners in affluent areas use vaping products, and that the habit was rife throughout high school aged children.
"It's marketed not necessarily directly to adolescents although much of the marketing is towards younger people and it is not only the matriculants.
“There are Grade 8s and I have been asked to come and talk to some Grade 7s who are also vaping,” he said
Smit said while there was a social element to vaping, many pupils said that they used vaping to cope with stress and anxiety, and that the pressures of high school had led to them vaping to get a dopamine release to help them cope.
“This has led to many students showing signs of developing an addiction to nicotine and the vape market desperately needs to be regulated to prevent this rise of addiction among high school students,” Smit said..
“It's trendy and there is no legislation or regulations meaning that it has become a free for all market,” he said.
In a radio interview with Cape Talk, Smit stressed that one of the reasons it was difficult for users to stop vaping was because of it was extremely addictive.
“Vaping devices contain nicotine; very much the same as tobacco it hits your brain and you feel good and that's is why most users continue using it. That's is why you keep coming back because it's very addictive,” he said.
He said that government should make vaping products less accessible, and put stricter measures in place regarding the advertising of these products