Glamourised in films and seen as the social norm; Doctors were even stating it could help cure respiratory disorders! In 1970s Europe 1 in 2 adults smoked cigarettes daily despite a plethora of 1960s scientific papers and government reports demonstrating smoking as one of the main contributing factors to lung cancer, chronic pulmonary obstructive disorder and emphysema. Thankfully as public sentiment changed and cigarette smoking became less socially acceptable smoking rates have gradually fallen across Europe. By 2010 several countries in Europe were reporting smoking rates amongst young adults of less than 10%.
Unfortunately, the recent rise in the availability and popularity of Vaping or e-cigarette use has presented a ‘fashionable’ alternative to smoking. It has, wrongly been perceived by many as being safer than cigarette smoking or even “harmless”. Whilst we do not yet have a wealth of epidemiological data concerning vaping, what is becoming clear is that it most certainly is not harmless. The EU was quick to apply regulations banning the sale of vaping products including liquids to under 18s.
In the US the CDC are currently reporting 1080 lung injury cases between March and September this year associated to vaping whilst scientists are sure this number represents just the “tip of the iceberg”. What is particularly alarming is that of these 1080 cases 81% are in people below the age of 35 and 37% are below the age of 20. Furthermore, many of these confirmed cases of lung injury in the under 20 population are presenting with lung injuries which are usually seen in people who are over the age of 60! Vaping companies have actively promoted that many of these cases are due to users altering the liquids sold, adding cannabis oil or other additives. The evidence suggests this is not the case for many of these victims.
Further research and evidence collection will undoubtedly give a much clearer picture in the future as to why vaping is having such a negative impact on lung tissue but I fear that this will take several years and that an entire school generation will experiment with vaping products unwittingly believing that ‘it won’t happen to me’.
As a school, we take the same perspective as the EU, we view vaping (with or without nicotine additives) as a form of smoking. The use of e-cigarettes or ‘vaping’ or the possession of these products in school or on a school trip will be dealt with severely. I have spoken with many parents on this matter and have received some very mixed messaging. Whilst many parents are very well read and understand the dangers of vaping, many parents are also unaware that vaping presents a risk. I write this blog, not to preach but to hopefully prompt discussions at home between parents and children. These discussions coupled with us educating our students about these dangers in PSHE lessons and assemblies will hopefully lead to our student community becoming more aware of the dangers of vaping.