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Hearing vaping stories may deter youth from using e-cigs, the study says

A new study from Western University researchers has found that showing the health risks of vaping through expert advice and personal testimonials can help steer students away from using e-cigarettes themselves.

Published in the Journal of Health Psychology on Friday, researchers gathered 77 undergraduate students from six provinces online, all of which consistently vaped e-cigarettes or other smoking products and devices at least five to 15 times a month.

The participants were then split into groups to view one of two videos. The first video discusses the importance of living a healthy lifestyle with tips on general nutrition and exercise, while the second video explains what vaping is and the potential health risks told by health experts and other e-cigarette users.

Over the course of 45 days, the researchers followed up with the participants to see how their feelings over vaping changed and found that those who viewed the second video were more likely to express their intention to stop or reduce their vaping habits.

Participants were asked about their vaping intentions and behavior and while the overall action of vaping did not change drastically, the researchers theorized the intention to stop vaping can translate to vaping behaviors that lead to quitting.

Over the last few years, there has been an increased concern over its use among teens and young people.

“It’s that same pattern of misunderstanding or misconception of the product that I believe will end up following the same linear path as cigarettes have, over the next 30 years,” lead researcher, Babac Salmani said in a news release.

Health Canada and advocates have called for more interventional methods beyond warning labels on products to make them less accessible to youth, especially when it comes to online sales, which can be difficult to regulate for teens.

According to Statistics Canada, vaping is most prevalent for Canadians aged 15 to 24 and has significantly increased since e-cigarettes with nicotine were legalized in 2018. However, rates of vaping among those aged 15 to 17-years-old are nearly four times higher than those aged 12 to 14-year-olds, according to data from 2019.

Data on the health risks linked to vaping is still a mystery, however some studies suggest the abuse of e-cigarettes could lead to damage to the lungs or even pneumonia. Some vaping products in Canada and the US have also been made to have fruit-flavoured aerosols, making some advocates concerned for how desirable it could seem to young teens.

Salmani says he hopes his study is able to further the research into the long-term effects of vaping and the need for education and intervention in communities.

“Hopefully the provincial and federal governments or health agencies are able to implement these types of intervention in schools and clinics or community centers so people understand what the effects of these behaviors are,” he said.