Mary Deller from Hope UK says the Government’s measures to tackle the huge rise in young people taking up vaping are a positive step forward.


Source: Photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

The recently announced Government ban on disposable vapes is a step in the right direction, if we are serious about tackling the worrying growth in young people vaping.

The ban is amongst several measures which will make vapes far less accessible to children. Restrictions on flavours so popular with young people, plus a requirement for plain packaging and changes to the way vapes are displayed at the point of sale in shops will, arguably, be more significant in preventing children from taking up the habit.

The proposed package of legislation will need to work as an effective deterrent for young people without having a detrimental effect on adults who have used disposable vapes to quit smoking.

Statistics tell us that vaping is now twice as common as smoking amongst children

Statistics tell us that vaping is now twice as common as smoking amongst children and that the number of 11–17-year-olds who have tried vaping has doubled in the past two years, from 11% to 20.5%.

A recent Hope UK survey showed that Christian youth workers suspected that vapes, along with alcohol, were the most used drugs by young people they work with.

Our work with Year 6 pupils in primary schools proves how normalised vaping has become. Many children have parents, older siblings or friends who vape. They constantly see the colourful, single-use disposable brands displayed in shop fronts along every high street - brands that have driven the huge rise in teenage vapers.

Our work with Year 6 pupils in primary schools proves how normalised vaping has become.

Young people are not aware of the risks. Most vapes contain nicotine, the ‘drug’ in tobacco smoke, which enables smokers to satisfy their nicotine craving without introducing all the cancer-causing substances present in tobacco smoke, into their lungs.

Vapes were never intended for non-smokers. The liquid within a device contains other chemicals – vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, which help to create the vapour cloud and carry the flavourings (yet more chemicals) that have become so popular with young people.

The short-term potential effects of inhaling these substances directly into the lungs include a worsening of pre-existing lung conditions, such as asthma and inflammation of the respiratory tract. Another big problem is nicotine addiction; the consequences are serious for teenagers with developing brains.

Parents, teachers, doctors and young people report that nicotine addiction is adversely affecting schooling, mental health and physical well-being. The big unknown is the long-term impact on health. Scientists say we will have to wait at least 20 or 30 years to gain a clear understanding of the risks.

Aside from the health risks, disposable vapes have had a huge environmental impact – with around five million single-use vapes being thrown away each week. The lithium contained in the batteries is thought to be sufficient to power 5,000 electric car batteries a year.

The new legislation, due to be implemented in 2025, will bring the UK into line with other countries proposing a ban on disposable vapes, such as Australia, New Zealand, France and Germany. While we wait to see what impact it has, Hope UK will continue working to educate young people, together with their parents, carers, youth workers and teachers, on this issue. Our sessions for children and young people focus on developing life skills essential to making healthy, drug-free choices.

We must also encourage our churches to pray: for wisdom for parents as they talk to their children about the risks of vaping; and also for those working with young people, as they deal with this issue on the frontline.