“We’ve got a very large problem here in Hawaii,” said Dr. Bonnie Halpern-Felsher, Founder and Creator of the Stanford Tobacco Prevention Toolkit. “In the last twelve months is when we’ve seen a particular rise, really in 2018 of e-cigarette and Juul use,” added Dr. Halpern-Felsher.

Data from NZ has indicated that vaping rates remain low, and are even dropping further amongst some age groups.

Hawaii Public Health Institute Board Member Dr. Forrest Batz said that the concern is that exposure to nicotine at such a young age may have a higher impact on their vulnerable brains than in the general population. “The big deal is that these are products that contain nicotine and that the age group that we’re highly concerned about is the same group whose brains are still growing.”

“The more their brains are exposed to nicotine, the more their brains are changed. In some cases slower development, in other cases permanently making changes that will impact them for the rest of their lives,” added Batz. On the other hand, other public health experts would argue that if this increase in vaping is equating to a decrease in smoking amongst the same age group, it is still be a victory for public health

Data about teen vaping from other countries

On the other hand, data from across the globe indicate a different story. Recently released data by New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa, has indicated that vaping rates remain low, and are even dropping further amongst some age groups. More importantly, the data shows that smoking has dropped to a record low.

Salesa pointed out that these numbers indicate that there is no evidence to support the infamous ‘Gateway Theory’. “Year 10 vaping in New Zealand remains low, and largely among students who smoke. There is still no evidence to suggest vaping is a gateway to cigarette smoking,” she said.

Similarly, a recent study led by Cardiff University researchers has found that contrary to claims saying that vaping normalizes smoking, the percentage of young people who reported that trying a cigarette was “OK”, has declined from 70% in 1999 to 27% in 2015.  Moreover, the researchers found that this rate started dropping at a faster rate from 2011 onwards, when e-cigarette use increased exponentially.

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