Number of children vaping spikes 50% in a year

Anti-smoking campaigners are calling for tighter restrictions to stop children from vaping after a new survey revealed numbers have jumped from 7.7% to 11.6% in a year.

Despite global efforts to reduce the number of young people getting their hands on e-cigarettes, a survey by the charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) revealed experimental vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds in Britain has skyrocketed.

person in black hoodie smoking

Additionally, the survey, which included 2,656 young people and was conducted in March and April this year, found the number of children who admitted to trying vaping once or twice has roughly doubled in the past nine years, from 5.6% in 2014 to 11.6% this year.

At the beginning of the year, an MP from Sleaford and North Hykenham introduced a bill into Parliament with an aim to prohibit the sale of disposable e-cigarettes and vapes. Action was taken by Dr Caroline Johnson after an NHS survey found almost one in five of 15-year-olds considered themselves as e-cigarette users despite the products being illegal to sell to under 18s.

As well as this, at the beginning of this month it was reported that the Australian government are set to ban to importation of non-prescription vapes in a bid to reduce the number of youths in the country that have taken up the habit. Both of these examples display hard work is going into stopping children from partaking in the dangerous activity, but the recent figures revealed by the ASH survey display more work needs to be done.

Data from the survey will be submitted as part of the government’s call for evidence on measures to lower the number of children who vape – but also ensure e-cigarettes can be accessed by adults who want to stop smoking.

When asked why they vape, 40% of children said they just wanted to give them a try, with 19% admitting they wanted to join in with their friends and a further 14% saying they just like the flavours. Some vapes can be bought with just the flavouring and no nicotine, but experts are still unsure of the ingredients inside them, posing them as a dangerous health risk.

The new data also follows earlier warnings from experts that the new generation of disposable vapes – known as ‘puff bars’ – contain nicotine and have flooded the market. They are most commonly bought at corner shops, followed by petrol stations and online.

Although e-cigarettes and vapes were originally introduced to help adults quit smoking, they are often advertised on social media platforms, which are mostly used by young people. 29% of the people surveyed said they saw them on YouTube, 28% on Instagram and 24% on Facebook.

Chief Executive of ASH, Deborah Arnott, said: ‘We need to stem the tide of child vape experimentation and the government’s investment in a crackdown on illegal underage sales of vapes is a vital first step.

‘But enforcement on its own won’t do the trick without tougher regulation to address the child-friendly promotion of these cheap and attractive products.

‘The evidence is clear, government needs to take strong action to prevent the marketing of vapes to children.’

Image: Zachary Tan


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top