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Young people are quitting vaping due to health impacts: UBC Okanagan study

The study aims to inform resources that are created for those who want to quit e-cigarettes
Researchers analyzed more than 1,200 Reddit posts to gather data. (Pexels photo)

A new UBCO study has determined that most young people quit vaping due to negative side effects.

UBCO School of Nursing associate professor Laura Struik and researcher Youjin Yang gathered data from 1228 Reddit posts to examine how e-cigarette users are experiencing and approaching vaping cessation. Struik, who is also an emerging scholar for the Canadian Cancer Society, found that most people quit vaping due to negative physical consequences associated with the activity, particularly in the lungs. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research and aims to inform resources that are created for those who want to quit e-cigarettes.

“Younger demographics are the ones who have the highest rates of e-cigarette use, and social media is known to be a very great place to reach them,” said Struik. “Vaping has accelerated at unprecedented rates among young people, and we know that many e-cigarette users want to quit, but we don’t really know how best to support them.”

When asked why she chose Reddit instead of platforms like TikTok, Struik said Reddit is well known for engaging individuals on health topics. It also has a variety of forums that are dedicated to tobacco-related use. However, Struik said there is potential to analyze TikTok and Instagram to study e-cigarette cessation.

“TikTok and Instagram hold value for investigation as well, especially since it uses imagery like photos and videos that you could use to potentially analyze the cessation experience,” she said.

Struik’s and Yang’s research also found that nicotine dependency is occurring at a much faster and more intense rate among e-cigarette users. Most popular devices carry more than two times the amount of nicotine, according to the study. This means that intense nicotine withdrawal and dependency are common among younger demographics.

“Science shows that the developing brain is more susceptible to more intense addiction,” said Struik.

While more evidence is needed to understand how e-cigarettes are impacting the body, Struik said more guidelines and evidence-based interventions are needed for those who want to quit e-cigarettes. She also said having an open and honest conversation without judgement is important to help those who want to quit e-cigarettes.

“Funding can help bring much-needed evidence to the table. Support for the development and evaluation of policies and interventions is pretty critical,” said Struik. “I also think it’s important to keep in mind that we can’t implement policies and regulations without offering resources to helping people who are already addicted.”

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