Scotland must stop turning into a vaping nation and become a sporting one instead – Scotsman comment

Increasing participating in sport would make Scotland considerably healthier and happier

A new study by the World Health Organisation has revealed that Scottish children are world leaders – and not in a good way. The researchers, who examined data about smoking, vaping and alcohol use by 280,000 children in 44 countries, found that two-fifths of girls in Scotland had vaped by the age of 15, a higher rate than other similar countries like France, Germany, Spain and Canada; and 23 per cent of 15-year-old boys had smoked cannabis, the highest rate for boys in any of the countries studied.

Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said the widespread consumption of harmful substances by children was “a serious public health threat”. “Considering that the brain continues to develop well into a person's mid-20s, adolescents need to be protected from the effects of toxic and dangerous products,” he said.

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The promotion of vaping as a healthier alternative to tar-laden cigarettes does make sense. However, it has clearly now become something of a social phenomenon with many children caught up in the idea that it is harmless. A single disposable e-cigarette can contain as much highly addictive nicotine as 20 cigarettes.

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Chemicals don’t bring happiness

Scotland already has serious problems with alcohol and drugs. Adding a new generation addicted to vaping may seem like progress to those on the frontline of the fight against tobacco, but it is not. Instead, it merely represents slower movement along the wrong path.

The future looks bleak if Scotland becomes a 'vape head' nation (Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images)The future looks bleak if Scotland becomes a 'vape head' nation (Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The future looks bleak if Scotland becomes a 'vape head' nation (Picture: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

As a country, we need to break free from the idea that happiness can be found in chemicals of one kind or another. The path towards a healthier and happier population lies in the creation of a ‘sporting nation’ culture. Fortunately, we have an example of how this can be achieved – Australia, where some 13.5 million adults and 3.6 million children take part in sport at least once a year, out of a population of 26 million.

The benefits of exercise on physical health are well known but it also has a transformative effect on mental health. Wider participation would, therefore, help take much of the pressure off the NHS. For those reasons and more, sport should be a pressing national priority.



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