In 2018, results from McCreary Centre Society’s BC Adolescent Health Survey showed that 27% of BC youth aged 12 to 19 had vaped in the past month. It was unknown how the pandemic would affect youth vaping, so a group of 28 youth researchers were recruited and trained from communities across BC to co-develop and deliver online surveys to their peers in June, September and December 2020. The youth researchers met regularly from May 2020 to January 2021 to develop survey items; review and provide context to results; and discuss dissemination strategies. The researchers shared each wave of the survey with their peers through various social media channels, such as Instagram and Facebook, as well as through their class ‘chat’ and school websites.
Over 3,500 surveys were collected (1,120 in June; 686 in September; and 1,774 in December). Youth who had never vaped, as well as those who had vaped, were invited to take part, as the surveys included questions about thoughts and perceptions around vaping that all young people could answer.
Youth researchers who worked on this project want to share the results with school counsellors as they feel the results show the link between school and vaping, and the need to understand the underlying reasons behind vaping. For example, around 1 in 5 youth (19%) reported that returning to school in September affected their vaping, most commonly because their school-related stress had increased, or because they were again socializing with peers who vaped. As one stated: “We need to listen to the youth who vape to understand their experiences, because youth who don’t vape don’t know what it’s like, and the same goes for adults.”
McCreary Centre Society's Vaping Youth Researchers are a group of 28 youth researchers in grades 8 – 12 who were recruited and trained from communities across BC to co-develop and deliver three online surveys to their peers. Four of us will be presenting at the conference.