Meanwhile, vaping rates remain steady for those who smoke or have recently quit.
In their brief history, e-cigarettes (or vapes) have been presented as a tool to help people quit smoking.
However, new Cancer Council NSW research shows that, while more people than ever are using vapes, most of these people have never smoked before and are under the age of 24. A significant proportion are starting to use vapes when they’re as young as 15 years old.
The study observes that the number of people who use vapes to quit smoking is not reflective of the rising number of vapers.
E-cigarettes are meant to help people quit smoking, but their marketing suggests otherwise
Tobacco companies have long claimed that their e-cigarette products are designed to help tobacco smokers quit. However, their marketing strategies suggest otherwise. Tactics such as promotion in social media and flavoured products suggest that these companies are promoting vaping to young people who have never smoked before.
If e-cigarette products are being used as a smoking cessation solution, then they need to be more heavily regulated, to ensure it is only being targeted to these populations.
People trying to quit smoking are not using e-cigarettes at higher rates
Our study shows that the use of e-cigarettes among smokers and people who have recently quit smoking who are aged 40 years or more didn’t have a major change between 2016-2020.
This suggests that despite suggestions that people are using vaping to quit smoking, many older populations are not actually using e-cigarettes to reduce or stop their cigarette and tobacco use.
We need further regulations to limit the supply of e-cigarettes
The number of people who vape – even in people who have never smoked – continues to rise, despite NSW taking action by bringing in rules such as banning the sale of e-cigarette devices, regulating advertising and preventing use in public spaces.
There needs to be a larger push to regulate vaping, especially if it is not being used as a tool to stop smoking as previously argued.
Cancer Council NSW’s Director of Cancer Prevention and Advocacy defines the issue of e-cigarettes in stark terms: “The exploitative tactics that were used by the tobacco industry to hook generations to tobacco smoking is now being used to addict Millennials and Gen Z to vaping.
“This is about reducing e-cigarette access and supply in order to protect our most vulnerable. The next NSW Government has a responsibility and unparalleled opportunity. We are letting our children, young people and communities down if we don’t fix this vaping epidemic”, Ms Dessaix said.