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Teen vaping: young students targeted by e-cigarettes

Teen vaping: young students targeted by e-cigarettes

Tuesday, April 25, 2023, 10:03 GMT+7
Teen vaping: young students targeted by e-cigarettes
Students at a high school in Binh Thanh district, HCMC, smoke e-cigarettes at a stall on Dang Thuy Tram street. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

"Many students smoke in secret at school. When they are criticized by teachers, they go outside to find some stands where they can do it, which worries us a lot," a teacher complained about the negative trend of e-cigarette use in schools.

Recently, a story circulated on social media in which a superintendent of a school in Ho Chi Minh City asked eight male students to take off their clothes to look for e-cigarettes.

Aside from the shock over the superintendent’s behavior, the public was also genuinely concerned about the growing trend of teenagers using e-cigarettes in school.

In fact, it has become an everyday thing for many to observe a group of students in uniform vaping on the street, in cafes, and even in school restrooms.

The Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters investigated this worrying trend.

Schools cannot control teen vaping

A teacher at a secondary school in Ho Chi Minh City said she is overly concerned about the use of e-cigarettes by students, which has increased at an alarming rate.

"Some students are secretly taking e-cigarettes to school, and I alerted and corrected this behavior when I discovered it.

"However, they do not get rid of the e-cigarettes either, but instead find places outside to smoke," the teacher complained.

Not a day without vaping

On an ordinary day, a few students gather outside the gate of a high school in Hanoi's Ha Dong District and share an e-cigarette.

Dozens of students grab e-cigarettes as soon as they leave the school.

Around 12:30 pm on April 18, a group of about 15 students in uniforms gathered at a drink stall near the school gate.

Five or six of them smoke continuously, not only tobacco but also e-cigarettes.

Fifteen minutes later, the students dispersed, about ten of them went into the school.

By 4:45 pm, just as they were coming out of the school gate, some students took out e-cigarettes again.

They took turns smoking them freely and comfortably in front of their friends on the way home.

D.T.K., an 11th grade student, said he started smoking about eight months ago, when he was just entering 11th grade

"Without them, my mouth feels tasteless," the teen explained.

As for K., some of his friends also use e-cigarettes. They often steam together when they go out for drinks, and sometimes they smoke in the school restrooms.

K. said that he had seen some videos advertising e-cigarettes on Facebook social media, so he wanted to try them and show them off to his friends.

Then he asked his older sister for money to buy clothes, but in fact he bought e-cigarettes instead.

"I bought e-cigarettes on Facebook. Just order them, they will be delivered to me immediately," said K..

"It's so easy to buy cigarettes. Each of them costs about VND300,000 (US$12.77).

"When the oil is used up, I can refill a new capsule with liquid, each costing between VND200,000 and VND300,000 ($8.51-12.77)," K. added.

Teacher T., in charge of disciplines and activities at a secondary school in the northern province of Bac Ninh, recently recounted that a 7th grade student at his school brought e-cigarettes to school to invite friends to try and buy them.

School officials only learned of the activity after it was brought to their attention by other students.

They asked the parents of 12 students involved with the purchase and use of e-cigarettes to sign a form agreeing not to allow such incidents in the future.

"In the written document explaining what happened, the students stated that they bought e-cigarettes at a stand about 300 meters from the school, others said they bought them online," the teacher told Tuoi Tre.

This student grabs an e-cigarette as soon as he walks out of the school gate of a high school in Hanoi city. Photo: Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre
This student grabs an e-cigarette as soon as he walks out of the school gate of a high school in Hanoi. Photo: Nguyen Bao / Tuoi Tre

Teenage girls also vaping

According to Tuoi Tre reporters' observations, students in Ho Chi Minh City often go to cafes they are familiar with to indulge in e-cigarettes instead of vaping right after leaving school.

As for the students who smoke, especially e-cigarettes, they avoid coffee shops with air conditioners due to the taste and smoke characteristics of cigarettes, preferring to go to those with many open spaces where they can stay for a long time.

At noon on April 18, two students used e-cigarettes at a coffee shop on Bac Ai Street in Thu Duc City.

There is a container of liquid on the table for refilling, along with drinks. 

In the afternoon of the same day, a group of students rode their bicycles outside the gate of a high school on Nguyen Xi Street in Binh Thanh District to nearby Dang Thuy Tram Street, where they clustered at a "meeting point" and took turns to smoke the same e-cigarettes.

On April 19, we continued our observation in front of the gate of a high school in Thu Duc City.

According to Tuoi Tre reporters' observation, many students gather here twice a day, at noon and late afternoon, to vape.

They gather in some groups in which there are not only male but also female students.

At noon of the same day, we saw a group of five or six students sitting in a café across from the school gate, both looking at their cell phones and smoking.

Four girls shared one or two e-cigarettes and took turns vaping.

Vy, a student at a high school in Thu Duc City, said she sometimes meets some friends at school who use e-cigarettes

"Social media says that e-cigarettes are quite harmful and even contain toxic substances. That scares me, so I have no intention of using them," Vy said.

"At school, I see some friends who smoke sometimes. Although teachers are holding a campaign to raise awareness about e-cigarettes, some friends still continue to use them," Vy added.

This sight has become the norm in front of many schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: Many students coming out of the school gate grab e-cigarettes as soon as possible. Photo: Nguyen Bao / Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre
This sight has become the norm in front of many schools in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City: Many students coming out of the school gate grab e-cigarettes as soon as possible. Photo: Nguyen Bao - Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre

More and more young people are using e-cigarettes

At a scientific conference on December 26, 2022, jointly held by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education, research results on the use of e-cigarettes among students aged 13 to 15 in Vietnam were presented.

At the event, Deputy Minister of Health Tran Van Tuan said that the trend of using e-cigarettes has increased in recent years.

According to Tran Van Tuan, the proportion of students aged 15 and older who use e-cigarettes has increased from 0.2 percent in 2015 to 3.6 percent in 2020. Among them, 7.3 percent are youth aged 15-24.

In the age group of 13-15 years old, the proportion of e-cigarette users is 3.5 percent, among which 4.3 percent are male students and 2.8 percent are female students.

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Kim Thoa / Tuoi Tre News


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