Vaping on the rise in primary schools, survey of primary school teachers reveals

Vaping on the rise in primary schools, survey of primary school teachers reveals

A third of primary school teachers say at least some of their students are using e-cigarettes, a new study has revealed.

The survey of teachers in schools across Australia about their pupils’ vaping behaviour also found that one quarter of staff working with primary school-aged kids believed their use of e-cigarettes had increased in the past two years.

Lead author Simone Pettigrew, from Sydney-based The George Institute for Global Health, said very little was known about the vaping activities of primary school children, despite evidence from other countries suggesting it is growing in this age group.

“Our study suggests many Australian students can readily access e-cigarettes and that vaping in schools is becoming more prevalent, including in primary schools,” Professor Pettigrew, who previously headed the WA cancer prevention research unit at Curtin University, said.

Around 20 of the nearly 200 schools involved in the survey were in WA.

The study, published in the Australian New Zealand Journal of Public Health, also found that more than half of teachers believed vaping was having a negative effect on students’ mental well-being, social interactions and school performance.

Around one-third of respondents had observed adverse changes in students’ moods and behaviours resulting from vaping, including increased irritability (38 per cent), greater restlessness (34 per cent), decreased class attendance (34 per cent) and increased tardiness (31 per cent).

The most popular place for students to vape on school grounds was in toilet blocks.

The study also suggested that primary school students were more likely to get e-cigarettes from their siblings or to take them from home without permission.

Secondary students were more likely to get someone else to buy for them, receive them from a friend aged over 18 or via the Internet.

Despite the observed increase in e-cigarette use, only one-third of those surveyed reported that their schools had a vaping policy or provided vaping-prevention education for students.

The study was carried out late last year, well before the release of a “vaping toolkit” to WA schools in June.

“There has been a big gap there, but it’s very encouraging to see the State Governments are picking up on that and developing resources for the schools,” Professor Pettigrew said.

“Our study shows some concerning trends in e-cigarette use in Australian schools — particularly primary schools — that need to be nipped in the bud to prevent future harm.”

Source: The Newest