A recent study conducted by a pulmonologist at the University of Cape Town has revealed that an alarmingly high number of learners were vaping at schools.
The preliminary study by Professor Richard van Zyl-Smit and other researchers raised concern noting that the alarming trend was specifically among matric learners at affluent high schools.
This study comes on the back of concerns also raised by the Western Cape Education Department (WCED) after a number of young children were caught in possession of e-cigarettes at schools.
In the report, published on the university’s Lung Institute website, Van Zyl-Smit revealed that one in four (25%) of learners in affluent areas were using vape products and that the habit was prevalent among high school learners of all ages.
“It’s marketed not necessarily directly to adolescents, although much of the marketing is towards younger people, and it is not only the matriculants,” he said.
He said he has also been asked to talk to some Grade 7s who are also vaping.
Van Zyl-Smit added that while there was a social element to vaping, many pupils claimed to be using vapes to cope with stress and anxiety as well as the pressures of high school, which 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.”
“It’s trendy, and there is no legislation or regulations, meaning that it has become a free for all market,” he said.
Van Zyl-Smit emphasised that vaping is extremely addictive, as products contain nicotine, making it difficult for users to stop.
In addition, he also called for the government to make vaping products less accessible and to introduce strict measures regarding advertising.