Vapes: Health director pens stern warning to parents about children vaping
The number of children who are vaping is continuing to rise.
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Parents must talk to their children about vaping sooner rather than later, a health boss has warned.
As local authorities push for a total ban on the selling of disposable vapes, one health director has taken matters into his own hands - and written a letter to parents urging them to speak with their kids about vaping.
Simon Bryant, director of public health at Hampshire County Council, has warned parents that children who vape are not only damaging their developing brains, but also putting their long-term health at risk. It comes following news that children as young as seven have been vaping in the UK.
In his letter, Mr Bryant said: "Vapes should not be used by children and young people, and non-smokers should not start vaping. The health effects of vaping can include headaches, coughing, insomnia, worsening of asthma symptoms, and throat and mouth irritation.
"As vapes are a relatively new product, the long-term health effects are still not known as there is not enough research into long-term use. Exposing children and young people to nicotine, which is highly addictive, could have negative impacts on developing brains.
"Unsafe, illegal vapes have been on the rise with reports showing that they can contain dangerous chemicals like lead and nickel. Some products contain nicotine when claiming they do not, or contain harmful cannabis chemicals.
"We recognise that this is an issue that needs to be addressed to protect children and young people."
It is illegal for vapes to be sold to anyone under 18 in the UK, or to purchase a vape on behalf of someone under 18.However, children have still been getting their hands on them, with Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) reporting that in 2023 more than one in five children had tried vaping, with concerns that they are being given to youngsters for free by traders, or gifted to them by friends and family.
Vapes, also called e-cigarettes, are used to help wean people off of actual cigarettes, in a bid to cut down on nicotine addictions. Last week, the government stated that it has "no plans" to make vapes prescription-only.
Mr Bryant added: "You can support your children by understanding the risks of vaping in children and young people and talking openly about vaping.
"A more natural discussion will increase the likelihood that your child will listen, for example, if you see someone vaping or find out someone they know vapes. Set clear expectations; explain that children and young people should not vape and share why you don’t want them to vape.
"If your child is vaping, you can help them quit by seeking professional support - it might also be helpful to explore the reasons why they are vaping in case further support is needed, such as anxiety and stress, or low mood."
The Smokefree service can help people quit vaping - click here for more information.