We Are All Bullied

Posted 1st March 2021 by Dave Cross
Researchers at Germany’s IFT-Nord and the University of Southern California have conducted a study to see if vapers are more likely to engage in or suffer from bullying victimisation. Their paper was published in the Aggressive Behaviour journal and found a relationship between bullying victimisation and vaping.

Lead author Reiner Hanewinkel has spent many years working on preventing bullying in German schools and has produced a number of studies addressing the issue(1). He is also one of the two authors of the “I’m Not Scared” project(2).

In “Association between bullying victimization and e‐cigarette use among German students”(3), authors Hansen, Morgenstern, Isensee, Galimov and Hanewinkel explain that they define bullying as being both physical, verbal, facial, obscene gestures, group exclusion and/or psychological abuse. They also include cyberbullying through email, text, social media posts and gaming chatrooms.

In total, 45.8% of subject reported being bullied which broke down as 46.5% of boys and 45.3% of girls. They stated that this is a huge concern to parents, teachers, mental health practitioners and – most importantly – the students themselves.

The team point to previous studies showing a relationship between being bullied and substance use. Data from 80,000 American students highlighted victims and the use of smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and marijuana use. They list a number of possible reasons for the link from self-medicating to susceptibility to peer-pressure.

Unfortunately, they held too much store in exaggerated tales of the “teen vaping epidemic” in America, and also speak of the EVALI lung disease outbreak as though it had anything to do with vaping. In addition, they disregarded the findings of one study that found ecig use “lost significance…when cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking, or cannabis use were considered in the models.”

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From 16,476 German students, “we found a dose–response relationship between bullying victimization and e-cigarette use. The odds of the past month e-cigarette used increased linearly with the increased frequency of bullying victimization.

Our study indicates that the association between bullying victimization and e-cigarette use holds even after controlling for a number of factors known to be associated with youth substance use.”

American Vaping Association’s Greg Conley recently highlighted an example of tobacco controllers bullying vapers with a new ad campaign displaying a vaper being bullied by her classmates(4). It comes from a website that is run by the City of Jacksonville, which also claims vapers suffer from diarrhoea, bloating, nausea and anxiety(5). The campaign also runs ridiculous Facebook(6) and Instagram(7) pages


  1. Prevention of bulling in German schools - https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2004-22320-005
  2. I’m Not S cared - https://iamnotscared.pixel-online.org/
  3. Association between bullying victimization and e‐cigarette use among German students - https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/ab.21951
  4. Tweet by Greg Conley - https://twitter.com/GregTHR/status/1352276009870102528
  5. Vaping Gets Ugly - https://www.coj.net/teen-vaping
  6. Vaping Gets Ugly on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/vapinggetsugly
  7. Vaping Gets Ugly on Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/vapinggetsugly/

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
Eternal Vape