Half of Swiss boys and a third of girls aged 15 have tried e-cigarettes at least once, suggests a survey of addiction among schoolchildren. The finding has alarmed the group Addiction Switzerland, which carried out the study of 11,000 children between the ages of 11 and 15.
This is a higher rate than for smokers of conventional cigarettes. The figure for vaping was 21% for boys and 13% for girls. The addiction surveyexternal link, conducted last year, included the e-cigarette and vaping categories for the first time.
“Vaping should not become normal consumer behaviour among young people,” said Grégoire Vittoz, director of Addiction Switzerland, in a statement. Swiss law is currently being adapted to protect minors from the new phenomenon, just like tobacco products.
But Addiction Switzerlandexternal link also called for such products to be priced beyond the means of schoolchildren, and for advertising restrictions to better protect children. The organisation pointed out that nicotine is addictive and can damage brain development in young people.
In most cases, marginally fewer 15-year-olds said they had tried addictive substances compared to the previous survey in 2014.
In 2018, 10% of boys and 8% of girls said they smoked conventional cigarettes at least once a week. In 2014 the respective figures were 12% and 9%.
Some 11% of boys and 4% of girls drank alcohol at least once a week (10% and 6% in 2014).
The survey also found that 27% of boys and 17% of girls had used illegal cannabis at least once in their lives (30% and 19% in 2014). The figures for trying CBD (cannabidiol) products were 9% and 5% for boys and girls.
The survey was part of an international “Health Behaviour in School-aged Childrenexternal link” (HBSC) study carried out under the auspices of the World Health Organizationexternal link, and was financed in Switzerland by the Federal Office of Public Healthexternal link and cantons. It is the ninth time the HSBC study has been conducted in Switzerland.