‘School kids highly vulnerable to fancy vaping gizmos’, say mothers while discussing ‘Ideas for an Addiction Free India’


New Delhi, June 19 (IANS) Think Change Forum (TCF), an independent think tank dedicated to generating new ideas and finding solutions for navigating the post-pandemic world, Monday released fresh findings from its ongoing research programme to uncover new trends in substance abuse among adolescents with specific focus on the concerns of mothers.

These findings are a result of consultations among the women experts and mothers from varied fields on the subject.

Mothers and women experts have proposed at a six-point agenda to address the rising threat of addiction among children:

There is a need for introducing early-stage awareness programmes for children in all school curriculums to prevent them from falling into the trap of substances.

The growing popularity of fancy electronic vaping devices among school children is a matter of grave concern as they are being positioned as cool and safer by the international tobacco industry.

These devices are a gateway for the entry of adolescents and children into higher levels of substances and addiction and therefore must be stopped.

Current Government policy should be expanded to ban the possession of vaping devices and e-cigarettes, making it a punishable offence, just like it is for narcotics.

Parents must collaborate among themselves and educators to form Parent Support Groups which must drive efforts to eliminate the menace of substances and drugs.

There should be provision for training and counselling of parents who have to unfortunately deal with an addictive child.

Voicing concerns over the glamorisation of vaping and how it is a serious problem today, Vaishali Sharma, Founder – The Champa Tree, said, “Marketers have effectively utilised glamorisation as a powerful tool to promote unhealthy products. In subtle and enticing ways, our brain is wired to absorb and appreciate the creative and subtle nuances of marketing, making it easier for such tactics to influence adolescents. Vaping has cleverly disguised itself in an attractive and visually appealing format, camouflaging the potential harm it can cause”.

She asserted that there is a need to find ways to address the issue of vaping, especially because it has camouflaged itself as a fancy product. The glamorisation of vaping and e-cigarettes is driving youth towards it. Moreover, producers are projecting them as harm reduction products, of which there is limited evidence.

Kavita Ashok – Social & Environment Activist, Actor and Founder of Tree for Life, spoke about the importance of communication when it comes to dealing with addiction.

According to her, “The sense of loneliness and exclusion often drives children to seek acceptance outside of their homes and immediate circles, leading them to engage in harmful behaviours such as vaping. To address this problem, a collective effort is needed from various stakeholders, including the film and music industry, social media platforms, university and school teachers, as well as families. By fostering connections with the youth and guiding them to distinguish between right and wrong, we can help create a supportive environment that discourages harmful habits.”

Dr. Varuna Pathak – Former Professor of Gynaecology & Obstetrics, Gandhi Medical College advocated for open dialogue on substance use. She opined, “In schools and institutions, we teach our students about reproductive health and create awareness about HIV. We also teach traffic rules in school. So, there is no reason why we cannot talk about the ill-effects of seemingly harmless behaviours like vaping. Also, mothers can collaborate and form WhatsApp groups to discuss and promote a safe environment for children.”

Sharing her views on upskilling to improve parent-child connection, Karishma Erraballi, Parenting Coach and Author, said, “One of the most important things parents should start is upskilling to effectively handle the insecurities of their children. As parents, we need to understand that upskilling is like an investment for our child’s well-being. We need to spend time, energy, effort and money on upskilling ourselves to better connect and build a bond with the child.”

In addition to mothers, youth influencers also need to play a crucial role in connecting with adolescents and influencing their behaviour. In this regard, Sharika Munshi, Founder – Tugbug Children’s Center, said, “Youth icons, celebrities and influencers should be the face of a movement against vaping. These influential individuals, to whom adolescents feel most connected, should actively promote the message that vaping is not cool and highlight its harmful effects. To create a significant impact, it is essential to integrate anti-vaping messages into popular culture. This can be achieved by incorporating such messages in movies, music, and viral campaigns. By making it uncool and socially unacceptable to vape, we can effectively discourage adolescents from engaging in this harmful behaviour and create a positive shift in their attitudes and choices.

Additionally, the experts highlighted some new trends – the growing denial due to increased acceptance of substance abuse, the role of performance anxiety among adolescents, FOMO (fear of missing out) and peer pressure – that are leading to intoxicating behaviours.



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