University of Southampton virtual reality peer pressure video aims to prevent teens vaping

  • VR experience of walking down a city street while being bombarded with vaping adverts and peer pressure. Credit: LifeLab

University researchers have teamed up with teenagers to produce a virtual reality (VR) experience highlighting the peer pressure to vape, to try and stop young people from picking up the habit.

The University of Southampton's LifeLab team created the video to outline the health warnings associated with vaping, as the VR headset wearer tries to spot the dangers.

The VR experience involves the participant walking down a street and hearing voices saying things such as "don't be boring", while being bombarded with vaping adverts.

The team has also produced educational materials for teachers to deliver in schools.

It follows the government's ban on disposable vapes, announced on Monday (29 January 2024), in an effort to protect children's health.

The university’s LifeLab works with teens from Southampton and wider Hampshire to provide in-lab and school sessions on health science. Credit: LifeLab

LifeLab Programme Manager, Dr Kath Woods-Townsend said: "We welcome the ban on disposable vapes, which can only be a good thing, but more needs to be done to educate our young people about why vaping is dangerous.

"We have co-created these resources with teenagers to ensure the messages are effective, engaging and meaningful to the young people we are trying to reach."

Professor of Allergy and Respiratory Genetics, John Holloway said: "Engaging resources like these that are designed by teenagers, together with policy changes, will help to improve the health of our population for decades to come."

The ban on disposable vapes comes following a government call for evidence last year, which the LifeLab team, including its Youth Panel, submitted a response to, informed by youth focus groups.

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