Vapes: Children as young as seven are now vaping in the UK as government vows to take action
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From advertising targeted at children to vapes being sold illegaly, many feel it is far too easy for children and teenagers to get hold of a vape, which could lead them down the road of nicotine addiction.
According to Labour’s Shadow Minister for Health and Social Care, Andrew Gwynne, 15 children under the age of nine were hospitalised last year due to vaping, with a large portion of the blame levelled at what politicians suggest is “child-friendly” advertising.
In an opposition day debate today (12 July) he said: “We are witnessing an incredibly alarming rise in underage vaping. In Devon, schools have reported confiscating e-cigarettes from children as young as seven.
“It’s just staggering - it should shock each and every one of us, the ease of access for children.
“We must do all we can. Like we tackled the packaging of actual cigarettes, we must be doing the same to e-cigarettes to ensure those children are weaned off their nicotine addiction.”
Statistics from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) revealed that in 2023 more than one in five children had tried vaping, with concerns that e-cigarettes are being given to youngsters for free by traders, or gifted to them by friends and family.
Among 11-15 year olds, around 15 per cent have vaped at least once, with Elf Bar reportedly being the most popular brand.
The report stated that “youth vaping is continuing to grow, as is children’s awareness of promotion” with a concurrent increase in the general use of disposable vapes.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay has told MPs that the government will “crack down” on what is becoming a growing problem.
In an oral questions session yesterday (11 July), he said: “The ministerial team are looking extremely closely at this, and we will take further action to clamp down on something that we all recognise is a risk to children.
“As the chief medical officer has said, ‘If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape.’
“That is why we are toughening up the regime. We are also working with industry as part of our call for evidence, but we are clear on the need to go further. That is exactly what we will do. I agree that disposable vapes are a particular concern - in our view, the growth in youth vaping is largely due to the growth in the use of disposable vapes.”
SNP spokesperson Martyn Day added that young people who vape “are at much greater risk of both nicotine addiction and later going on to use tobacco itself.”
ASH was approached by National World for comment.