Teens talk vaping: a co-produced participatory study on the micro-geographies of teen vaping in Canada
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University of Nottingham, School of Geography, United Kingdom
Western University, Canada
University of Calgary, Canada
London District Catholic School Board, Canada
Publication date: 2023-04-26
Popul. Med. 2023;5(Supplement):A1190
Background and Objective:
The increase in vaping (e-cigarette use) among youth in Canada and elsewhere has become a serious public health concern. Among teens in Canada (16-19 years), vaping prevalence increased from 29.3% in 2017 to 40.6% in 2019. The 2019 Canadian Tobacco and Drug Survey found that among youth aged 15-19, 87% had vaped nicotine and 40% had vaped cannabis in past 30 days. The history of failed tobacco cessation and substance use campaigns targeted at youth has shown that effective health promotion begins with evidence that centres young people’s experiences in meaningful ways. The “Teens Talk Vaping” project sought to co-produce research about teen vaping with teens to inform the development of evidence-based vaping education materials in collaboration with local public health authorities and school board partners.

Our participatory approach included a capacity-building programme to train teen team members to contribute to the project as ‘co-researchers’, equipping them with the research skills necessary to contribute to all phases of the project, from data collection through to knowledge translation. Paired with adult team members, teen co-researchers facilitated 7 online focus groups with teens (n=17) from across Canada, including teens who vaped and those who did not, to better understand how vaping features in their everyday environments.

Our thematic analysis generated five themes: (1) Secrecy and surveillance at school; (2) Online omnipresence; (3) Social pressures and positionings; (4) (Un)restricted mobilities and access; and (5) Re-thinking school-based vaping education.

Our findings reveal the extent to which exposure to vaping is deeply embedded and normalised in the everyday micro-geographies of teens in Canada.

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