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Charity backs crackdown on vapes to tackle ‘epidemic’ of child addiction

Ash Scotland said respiratory medics describe the widespread use of vapes among schoolchildren as ‘a vaping epidemic’ (PA)
Ash Scotland said respiratory medics describe the widespread use of vapes among schoolchildren as ‘a vaping epidemic’ (PA)

A charity has called for flavoured e-cigarettes to be banned and all vaping products hidden in shops in a bid to tackle an “epidemic” of addiction among schoolchildren.

Respiratory paediatricians in Scotland have described the widespread use of vapes among children as “a vaping epidemic”, according to charity Ash Scotland.

The charity was set up by the Royal College of Physicians to tackle the harm caused by tobacco.

It has backed proposals from the UK Government and devolved administrations to restrict e-cigarette flavourings, packaging and marketing – but has urged further mitigations.

The proposals outlined in the consultation – Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping – were put forward after the number of children using vapes tripled in the past three years.

World Health Organisation (WHO) evidence suggests vapes can be a gateway to smoking cigarettes, with young people who use e-cigarettes up to three times more likely to become addicted to nicotine.

Ash Scotland said most youngsters choose disposables, which can cost £2, and called for the sale of them to be banned on health and environmental grounds.

The consultation is considering “restricting the supply and sale of disposable vapes”, but the charity called for them to be outlawed, and for legislation to be brought in as soon as possible.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive of Ash Scotland, said: “We welcome the commitment of the governments at Holyrood and Westminster to prioritise actions aimed at tackling the alarming upsurge of children using e-cigarettes.

“The scale of this public health challenge demands the introduction of swift and robust measures to bring an immediate halt to the exponential rise in vaping amongst Scotland’s children and young people over the past few years.

“Children are attracted to the taste and smell of fruit and sweet flavoured e-cigarettes, as well as the colourful, engaging designs, packaging and marketing of vapes – especially disposables which can cost as little as £2.

“As most e-cigarettes contain high levels of nicotine, as well as toxic chemicals in the flavourings that have not been safety tested for inhalation and could damage lung health over time, we are advocating for the removal of all flavours except tobacco from these health harming products.

“We are also calling for an outright ban of single-use disposable e-cigarettes and for other strong measures such as preventing the use of imagery, colours and branding to reduce the attractiveness of products to children, and for all e-cigarettes to be hidden from view in retail environments.

“With the Scottish Government having already consulted on its proposed regulations to tighten rules on the advertising and promotions of recreational vaping products in 2022 and having legislation in place to enact measures, Ash Scotland is calling for regulations to be laid before Parliament at the earliest opportunity as a vital step towards protecting the health of children now and future generations.”