Number of young Taiwanese smoking rises for first time in 10 years

Vaping increased by 50% in just one year: Health Promotion Administration

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Confiscated flavored e-cigarette cartridges 

Confiscated flavored e-cigarette cartridges  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The number of young people smoking rose for the first time in a decade last year, while the popularity of e-cigarettes rose by half, according to a report by the Ministry of Health and Welfare's Health Promotion Administration (HPA) the Thursday (May 28).

In 2019, an estimated 81,000 youths smoked traditional tobacco cigarettes, while 57,000 young Taiwanese had adopted the habit of vaping, CNA reported. The survey found that the proportion of junior high school students with a smoking habit rose from 2.8 percent in 2018 to 3 percent in 2019, and the proportion of senior high school students from 8 percent to 8.4 percent.

Four out of every 10 young smokers smoke flavored cigarettes, which are more popular with women, the study discovered. The most popular motivator to start smoking was curiosity, followed by "seeing other people smoke," parents smoking, and the desire to relieve pressure.

The practice of vaping saw its popularity with young people surge from 2.7 percent in 2018 to 4.2 percent last year, with male senior high school students the category most likely to use e-cigarettes.

The HPA noted that manufacturers had tried to circumvent public concern about the health risks of smoking by changing their advertising campaigns and offering a variety of flavors. However, smoking has still been linked to six of the main causes of death in Taiwan and indirectly to four others, according to HPA officials.

While e-cigarettes are illegal in Taiwan, their increasing popularity could form a "stepping stone" leading students to a lifelong smoking habit, CNA quoted the HPA as saying.