Countless studies have in fact highlighted that younger individuals with developing coping skills are more likely than their older counterparts to turn to nicotine (a known stress reliever) to alleviate their moods and stress levels.
The WHO study examined data related to substance use behaviours from 280,000 minors aged 11, 13, and 15, across 44 countries. With regards to vaping, the paper reported that two-fifths of the girls in England and Scotland have vaped by age 15. This rate is higher than in many other developed countries, including France, Austria, Germany, Spain, Canada, and Norway. Additionally, girls in the UK were more likely to have tried vaping by the time they turned 15, compared to the average across all 44 countries in the study.

The research team highlighted that among this age group, vaping seems to have replaced smoking, referring to this as a “concerning trend.” While discussing this same pattern, tobacco harm reduction (THR) experts have consistently said that it is a positive stride forward for public health, given that science has indicated that vapes are significantly safer than cigarettes.

The research team suggested that societal changes may be driving these gender differences in use. Professor Sally Kendall from the University of Kent, who worked on the study, proposed that societal shifts towards “girl power” and the narrowing of stereotypical gender behaviours could be contributing to the increased rates of alcohol consumption, smoking, and vaping among girls.

She added that these behaviours are often associated with lower life satisfaction, a greater sense of loneliness, and reduced well-being among girls, in comparison to boys. Countless studies have in fact highlighted that younger individuals with developing coping skills are more likely than their older counterparts to turn to nicotine, a known stress reliever, in order to alleviate their moods and stress levels.

A factor that the research team in this study may have overlooked, is that many young girls choose to consume nicotine as a means to control their weight, due to its appetite suppressing quality. Once again, vaping is only recommended as a smoking cessation aid for smokers struggling to quit otherwise. However, if a young person is going to choose to consume nicotine no matter what, vaping is definitely a safer option than smoking.

Does vaping decrease fertility levels?

Meanwhile, the finding of increased use in girls as opposed to boys, may be currently considered more significant given another recent study suggesting that vaping may reduce a women’s fertility levels. Conducted by Dr. Helen O’Neill, a reproductive and molecular genetics lecturer at University College London, the fertility study, reported that vaping reduced the anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels among female vapers.

AMH is considered a marker of fertility, indicating a woman’s egg supply. Lower levels of this hormone could suggest a reduced chance of conception. The study analyzed blood samples from over 8,000 women, and found that vaping could suppress AMH in a way similar to smoking. This finding has prompted health experts to recommend that women who are either pregnant or trying to conceive should quit vaping.

However, context is everything. Vaping while pregnant is only recommended by the National Health Service (NHS), as well as THR experts, as an alternative to smoking. E-cigarettes/vapes work by heating liquids or salts and producing nicotine vapour. Unlike traditional cigarettes, vapes do not involve combustion, do not contain tobacco and do not produce tar and carbon. To this effect, they produce significantly less carcinogens and therefore significantly less health risks to unborn children, as well as users.

Even so, the NHS acknowledges that the risks of vaping during pregnancy remain uncertain. Hence it’s preferable for expectant mothers, to not take up vaping if they are able to stay abstinent from smoking without the devices’ help.

Meanwhile, despite the possible connection between AMH levels and fertility, the relationship may not be straightforward. Some studies suggest that AMH levels aren’t always reliable indicators of current or future fertility, as they don’t reflect egg quality or the rate of decline in egg count.

How is the UK dealing with alarmist headlines about local teen vaping rates?

These studies aside, in the UK there has been a growing concern about an alleged alarming increase in vaping among minors, with data showing that one in five kids has tried vaping, and its use among youths has tripled in the past three years. Dr. Jo Inchley, international coordinator for the previously mentioned WHO study, echoed these concerns and believes that disposable vapes are likely driving the increased use due to being relatively cheap and accessible.

Sadly, instead of consulting with THR and smoking cessation experts, the UK government has responded to these widespread concerns by issuing the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which seeks to create the UK’s first “Smokefree Generation.” The bill aims to make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born after 1 January 2009, with provisions to limit flavours, packaging, and displays of vapes to reduce their appeal to minors, as well as setting a vape tax and a ban on disposable vapes.

The Relationship Between Vaping and Fertility Issues in Males. Is there one?

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