new study revealed a new bleak e-cigarette use among teens, with more than 80% of teachers reporting that at least some of their high school students smoke vapes.
The study, published Thursday in the Australian-New Zealand Journal of Public Health, polled nearly 200 teachers working in primary and secondary schools across Australia.
Over 70% of teachers found an increase in e-cigarette use among students, while elementary teachers reported a 27% increase among elementary school students.
In both primary and secondary schools, more than half of the teachers reported a “deterioration” in students’ mental well-being, social interactions with peers, and athletic performance, with just under half reporting a negative impact on their academic performance.
Some general changes in students’ mood included irritability, increased anxiety, decreased class attendance, and increased tardiness to class.
Among teenagers, the following motives were most frequently mentioned: “they think they are cool or intriguing” (50 percent) and “they think they are less harmful than regular cigarettes” (46 percent).
Another 44% of teens used devices “out of curiosity” and 42% smoked vapes because “a friend is using them.”
Across the board, public schools were more likely than independents to report these results, and teachers reported major changes in school culture.
Global Health Institute lead author Simone Pettigrew said evidence from other countries suggests that vaping is on the rise among primary school children, although it is not known how common it is in Australia.
“Our research shows that many Australian students can easily access e-cigarettes and that vaping is becoming more common in schools, including primary schools,” she said.
Most often, schoolchildren smoke vapes before or after school, lunch time and free time.
Primary and middle school students regularly smoke cigarettes on school grounds, mainly in restrooms and on sports fields.
Despite the growing trend of vaping among children, only one-third of teachers reported that they teach children how to prevent vaping.
The study follows Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath’s warning about the dangers of vaping.
“Queensland Health warns that there are many known causes of harm from e-cigarettes and vaping, and young people are among those most at risk of harm,” she said.
“At this point, there is not enough evidence to support claims that e-cigarettes are safe.”
Originally published as Disturbing new report of Australian teens using e-cigarettes