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ASH Youth Briefing

Action on Smoking and Health has issued a briefing about teen vaping aimed at countering hysteria in UK local authorities

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Action on Smoking and Health has issued a briefing about teen vaping. Its aim is to help local authorities respond to growing concerns about youth vaping in their communities. Primarily for public health officials and trading standards officers, it also “sets out important information for councillors, schools, parents and retailers.”

Following the release of a recent ASH report, Deborah Arnott, ASH’s Chief Executive said:

The disposable vapes that have surged in popularity over the last year are brightly coloured pocket-sized products with sweet flavours and sweet names, and are widely available for under a fiver, no wonder they’re attractive to children.”

A number of advocates pointed to statements such as this fuelling the growing concern in the public and politicians, and legitimising hysteria in media articles.

Responding to the worries about teen vaping, ASH’s briefing issues some key facts and messages.

The first, “Vaping is not risk free, and NICE recommends that vaping should be discouraged in children and young people who have never smoked”, indicates a balanced position that e-cigs can play a useful role in helping smoking teens to quit tobacco use.

Importantly, ASH then goes on to state: “The proportion of young people who vape has increased, but media reports that youth vaping risks becoming a potential ‘public health catastrophe’ leading to a ‘generation hooked on nicotine’ 3 are not substantiated by the evidence.”

  • Most youth vaping is experimental
  • Underage vapers mainly buy from shops
  • 43% have been given them; 18% have bought them from friends or other informal sources, 11% buy from street markets; and 10% have bought on the internet
  • Elf Bar and Geek Bar by far the most popular brands
  • Underage vapers are much more likely to report no urges to vape

The briefing says that schools should consider a coordinated whole school approach to smoking and vaping in the curriculum, adding “most young vapers also smoke or have smoked and it is important to recognise, and communicate to children and young people, that the level of risk from smoking is far greater than vaping, so the two are not confused.”

It is important for schools to educate children on vaping, emphasising that vapes are less harmful than smoking, but that their purpose is to help adult smokers stop smoking. Smoking and vaping should both be discouraged, but it is important to do so in ways that do not inadvertently glamourise these behaviours or increase misperceptions that vaping is equally or more harmful than smoking.”

Importantly, the briefing ends by exploding some of the myths still circulating about vaping – including one that always seems to feature in every newspaper article about disposables: “Disposable vapes DO NOT contain as much or more nicotine as a packet of 20 cigarettes. Comparing like with like, a UK standard 2 ml disposable vape contains 40 mg of nicotine, an average pack of 20 cigarettes contains 250 mg of nicotine11 which is more than six times as much.”


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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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