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Inside the world of youth vapers

SAL*, now aged 19, started vaping when he was 14 under the influence of his friends.

He was fascinated at how the “smoke from the vape puffed out” and decided to give it a try. What began as curiosity has evolved into a daily habit that costs him RM55 a month.

“I go to vape shops to get my products, and I usually go for a certain brand,” he told StarEdu, adding that he would go for a certain flavour too as “it has the perfect level of nicotine”.

“I usually vape outside the house or in my room, where my parents are not around as they are unaware of my vaping habit,” he said, adding that he has no intention of revealing it to his parents to avoid lengthy discussions about it.

On reports that vape contains more than 2,000 chemicals, Sal expressed surprise at the fact.

“I am aware of the potential health risks but I did not expect there to be that many chemicals,” he said.

Despite his knowledge of the consequences of vaping, he said he currently has no intention of discontinuing the habit.

“I only stop vaping when I am low on money,” he said, adding that he would “take a break” for a few months until he has the spending means again.

Mac*, on the other hand, has quit vaping completely after taking to it on a daily basis in 2019 due to “mental health issues and peer pressure”.

“At one point, I spent about RM300 on vape in a year, which made it RM25 a month.

“I got my vape from physical and online shops, and I usually preferred fruity flavours,” the 20-year-old recalled.

“I am aware of the potential health risks, such as cardiovascular disease, especially after I started experiencing some symptoms of it, which was why I decided to quit vaping,” he said, adding that his parents were unhappy with him when they discovered his habit.

Ace*, 20, has been taking steps to quit vaping after his parents found out about his habit and urged him to quit.

He said he fell into the “trap of peer influence” last year and has taken to vaping daily.

Spending around RM80 a month, he said he gets his products from vape shops.

“I cannot help but to vape anywhere I am, though I try to do it subtly,” he shared.

“Quitting addiction is a challenging process despite the knowledge of the serious consequences of vaping,” he added.

He emphasised the importance of offering support to vapers rather than criticism.

“I suggest you help them quit by being there for them on their recovery journey and understanding that it is a hard thing to do,” he asserted.

The trio agreed with the need for the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill, dubbed the Generational End Game, which, among others, seeks to regulate the sale and consumption of cigarettes and other smoking products among those born in 2007 and after.

On the legal age of smoking, Ace suggested that the government increase it to match that of alcohol consumption, which is 21 years old.

Mac suggested that the government increase the taxation on smoking products to discourage public consumption as a whole.

Sal said ideally, there should no longer be any sale of cigarettes or vapes in the future, hence stopping the habit once and for all.

*Names have been changed to protect the students’ identities

Charis, 20, a student in Kuala Lumpur, is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Applications for next year’s programme are now open. For details, go to facebook.com/niebrats.

Source: The Star

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