Three out of ten young men vaping, as vaping rates triple

AIFS

Vaping rates among Australian men more than tripled from 4% in 2020-21 to 13% in 2022 according to new research by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).

More than 6,000 men aged 18-65 years in 2022 responded to the two most recent survey cycles of Ten to Men, a nationwide longitudinal study of Australian boys and men.

Rates of vaping are 10 times higher in younger than older men, with 30% of 18-24 year olds vaping, compared to 3% of 55-65 year olds. Approximately 24% of 25-34 year-old men vape.

Of those vaping in 2022, around 28% reported vaping more than five times a day.

The study also revealed men who vape are 59% more likely to engage in later smoking and 33% more likely to engage in later illicit drug use.

Lead author and Senior Research Officer at AIFS, Dr Constantine Gasser, said the finding that vaping is a gateway to other risky health behaviours is particularly concerning.

‘Vapes were introduced to help people stop smoking – yet they have become a public health issue in their own right,’ Dr Gasser said.

‘Not only are men who vape far more likely than their non-vaping peers to smoke later, they are more likely to use illicit drugs later as well.

‘The reverse is also true, with men who engage in risky behaviours like illicit drug use, smoking, risky drinking and gambling, more likely to vape later,’ Dr Gasser said.

Rates of vaping are higher among men in major cities, with 14% of men in major cities vaping compared to 9% in inner regional areas and 8% in outer regional and remote areas.

Ten To Men Program Lead at AIFS, Dr Sean Martin, said the fact that men in major cities report higher rates of vaping than those living in rural and regional areas suggests access to e-cigarettes may be a key driver of use.

‘The research shows that reducing access to e-cigarettes will be critical to supporting the health of Australian men,’ Dr Martin said.

‘Focussing public health messaging towards men with mental health issues could also be particularly beneficial, as they are far more likely than their counterparts to engage in later vaping.’

Men with mental ill-health – including moderate or severe depression, suicidal thoughts or suicidal plans – are 38% to 90% more likely to engage in later vaping.

Minister for Health and Aged Care, the Hon. Mark Butler, said this latest research supports the Government’s strong action on vape control.

‘Young Australian men were sold a furphy from Big Tobacco. Vaping is addictive and vapes contain over 200 chemicals that will harm your health,’ Minister Butler said.

‘It’s taken us over 40 years to get male smoking rates down, this is a major public health issue, and the Government won’t allow another generation of Australian men to be lured into addiction by Big Tobacco.

‘That’s why it is so important that all Parliamentarians back the Government’s world leading vaping legislation,’ Minister Butler said.

Quit Director, Rachael Andersen said that reminding men of the supports they can access to quit vaping would be key to successfully beating nicotine addiction.

‘We know that more men vape than women, and nicotine is an incredibly addictive drug. Today’s research underscores the importance of services like Quitline,’ Rachael Anderson said.

‘We have youth counsellors, Aboriginal Quitline counsellors, translation services and culturally appropriate supports in place to help men on their quitting journeys. And we want to remind anyone battling vaping dependence that they are not alone.’

Ten To Men is the largest longitudinal study on male health in the world. Funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care, the study has been tracking more than 16,000 boys and men since 2013, asking them about significant issues such as gambling, drinking, drug use, family violence, social connection and mental health.

For confidential support to quit vaping contact Quitline on 13 7848 or visit https://www.quit.org.au/.

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