County Council promises action to tackle teen vaping

Following an increase in young people experimenting with vaping, Hampshire County Council has pledged continuing support for a series of education and enforcement measures to tackle the increasingly pressing issue of teen vaping

Jul 20 2023

At the Authority’s Full Council meeting today (20 July), a formal motion received unanimous cross-party agreement acknowledging the impact of teen vaping on health, as well as the environment, and the need for further and ongoing action to address the problem.

Councillor Liz Fairhurst, Hampshire County Council’s Cabinet Lead Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health said: “While vaping can be a useful tool for helping smokers to quit, these devices should not be used by children or anyone who does not smoke, as the long-term risks are not fully known, and vaping nicotine products is addictive.

“The rise in vaping experimentation among children and teens poses a significant risk to their wellbeing, with potential long-term consequences. We want to help protect teenagers by educating them about the effects, as well as keeping vapes out of reach through tough enforcement. 
“In response, we have already written to families of children in secondary schools with information about vaping and vape products to highlight the risks, as well as the support available. We are also in the process of renewing our smoking and vaping prevention programmes with schools and developing education and awareness schemes to encourage behaviour change and to reduce uptake. Additionally, our Trading Standards team will carry out enforcement operations to deter underaged sales of vapes and tackle illegal vapes.”

While it is against the law to sell vaping products to anyone under 18, underage vaping is on the increase. There are also illegal products on the market that contain harmful chemicals such as lead and nickel. High levels of inhaled lead can damage children’s central nervous system and brain development. Other illegal vapes may contain nicotine - when they claim not to - or THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) chemicals, which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. 
Nationally, the proportion of children experimenting with vaping has grown from 7.7% in 2022 to 11.6% in 2023. In total, 20.5% of children have tried vaping, up from 15.8% in 2022 and 13.9% in 2020. 

A recent survey across secondary schools and colleges in Hampshire shows a large increase in the percentage of young people both experimenting with and using vapes. The survey shows that youth experimentation with vapes increases from 4% in year 7 to 53% in year 13. Similarly, vape use increases from 7% in year 10, to 18% in year 13. 

This promise for more action comes as the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, has called on the Government to ban the sale and manufacture of single use vapes by 2024. With the EU proposing a ban in 2026 and France rolling out a ban in December this year, the LGA has flagged the potential risk of vapes flooding the UK when these other markets close.

Councillor Fairhurst added: “We also support calls to Government to tighten up laws around the marketing and availability of vapes. We want to see stricter regulation for vapes, in the same way as tobacco. There is also the environmental toll caused by discarded vaping devices and e-cigarette waste that highlights the urgent need for awareness and responsible disposal.”

Members of the public can report illegal vapes and underage vape sales to Hampshire Trading Standards.

More information about the uses and effects of vaping can be found on the NHS website.