Vaping News

5 Live Attacks Vaping Again

Eschewing a balanced approach, BBC 5 Live Breakfast continues its onslaught against vaping under the guise of “protecting the children”

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“I’m sure you’ll know that [vaping] is a story we’ve spent quite a lot of time discussing on this show,” opened up Rachel Burden, co-host of the 5 Live Breakfast radio show. Burden went on to say they’ve covered many topics over the last twelve months: teen use, teen access, and “we really don’t know what’s in them”.

Rachel Burden says her claim that “we really don’t know what’s in them” is supported by news from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, which says that 1 in 3 vape products may be falling foul of regulations. In particular, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute says products are breaching the rules regarding nicotine strength and warning labels.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute demands increased fines on manufacturers, suppliers and retailers who don’t follow the law.

5 Live Breakfast spoke to John Herriman, Chief Executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute.

Rachel Burden played him her interview with a single child from Baxter College in Kidderminster, a snapshot confirming prejudice over research evidence.

John Herriman was “sadly” not surprised by the child’s comments about ease of access to vape products. “That’s a problem we’re seeing up and down the country. I do believe that the school you reference there have installed some sort of vape detectors and stuff in their toilets, so they are taking action – but we’re seeing a real increase in young people using vapes.

“There’s been a 100% increase in the number of young people age 11-17 in 2021 to 2022 who’ve started using vapes.”

John is being disingenuous in using the 100% figure, it comes from the Action on Smoking and Health/Cancer Research UK annual survey showing that just 7.0% of 11-17 year olds were current users.

Over that same period,” Herriman continued, “there has been a tenfold increase in the same age group using disposable vapes. So, we’re seeing a real challenge around the use of vapes by young people.

“I think it just echoes a wider challenge we’re seeing in the UK, which is just the easy accessibility of vapes – particularly the problem at the moment which is illegal vapes. They’re the ones we see coming flooding into the country. They’re the ones that then contain illegal levels of nicotine.

“For example, they might contain the wrong cylinder size, increasing the number of puffs you can get out of them, which just compounds the issue with young people because they can not only get hold of vapes but they can get hold of vapes that will also be illegal in terms of the quantities of nicotine, which is obviously an addictive substance.”

Rachel Burden says she “sees these illegal vapes all of the time” and that they are “everywhere”.

John Herriman says that there are “a number of layers” as to why the Trading Standards teams are unable to get on top of this perceived problem.

Part of the issue is that there is no real requirement, well there is no requirement whatsoever, for anybody selling vapes because it’s completely unregulated. So, literally, anybody as a shopkeeper can sell vapes. So, whether it’s the local garage or the corner shop, or whether it’s the local mobile phone repair shop, they can all sell vapes so they become just so easily accessible to everybody.

“Also, vapes come under tobacco product regulations and are age restricted, so if you’re under 18 you can’t buy them, but because they become so available that’s why young people are able to get hold of these so quickly.

“The other side of this is, from a Trading Standards perspective, we know these products are coming into the country [there was a seizure of 1.4tonnes of them in the North East at Christmas], we know they’re getting to the High Street because we are doing test purchases and 1 in 3 are failing and finding illicit vapes, and that’s partly because we have had a reduction in Trading Standards assets over the last decade or so that means we just don’t have the same ability to enforce the law.”

While nobody wants to support illegal activity, it is a shame that the Chartered Trading Standards Institute is being disingenuous with its citations and percentages in its quest to obtain increased levels of funding.

Last week, Professor Linda Bauld reminded people that the overwhelming majority of young people do not vape and parents, schools, local authorities, Trading Standards and politicians should avoid “panic” on this issue.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute and 5 Live Breakfast’s actions runs the real risk of harming adult smokers being able to switch to vaping.

Dave Cross avatar

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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