Political Viewpoint by Southend Council’s Liberal Democrat Group Leader and Councillor for Eastwood Park Ward, Coun Paul Collins – Flavoured Vapes – the risk to our youngsters.
I was recently approached by an Eastwood mother, who was very concerned about the use of Vapes by young people, including 12 year olds in our area. The Eastwood Park resident was alarmed when her teenager came home with a vape and her 12-year-old child said most of her friends vaped or had tried it.
I think it’s outrageous that school children can pick up candy-flavoured vapes along with crisps at local outlets. Teenagers in Southend and Rayleigh are being lured with sweet-flavoured vapes in local supermarkets and newsagents, and are at threat of getting addicted to the high nicotine products, according to an investigation by local Liberal Democrats.
The government should crack down on flavoured vapes such as bubble gum, strawberry, and mango, which are encouraging children to take up vaping.
Large displays in some Eastwood supermarkets such as Morrisons in Western Approaches show a wide array of sweetly flavoured vapes next to food, drinks and newspapers. I alerted public health inspectors from Southend Council, but they said their hands were tied because the display was within the existing law.
Nearly one in 10 British children between 11 and 18 have tried vaping products and about half of those regularly use vapes, a 2021 study showed.
Youngsters are also concerned about the abuse of Vapes by under age people, Southend City Youth Council ran a survey earlier this year because they noticed an increasing number of young people vaping. They worked with the Public Health team and Essex County Council to gather views from young people, parents and carers about cigarettes, smoking and vaping.
It is not denied that vapes are a useful tool to help smokers quit the habit, but the favoured vapes are coaxing children who have never smoked to get hooked to nicotine. One pod can contain as much nicotine as 20 cigarettes.
About half of 16-19 year olds in the 2021 study who currently vaped said they felt a little or very addicted.
While it is illegal to sell vaping products to under 18-year-olds, nearly half of British teenagers aged 11 to 17 who vaped said they bought the products at newsagents or off older children.
The disposable vapes are made by brands such as Elfbar from China, which has banned selling sweet or fruity vapes on its domestic market, but are still sold in the UK. They cost about £5 each and come in a wide range of flavours including banana ice, watermelon and strawberry ice cream. They also create a huge amount of plastic and chemical waste.
I believe our teenagers are at risk. No one knows for certain the long-term health implications of inhaling this cocktail of chemicals. The UK should join other places such as Denmark and the Netherlands in Europe and some U.S. states, such as California, in protecting them by banning favoured vapes.
Nationally, the Liberal Democrats have called for a crack down on the sale of single use Vapes.
While the latest NHS statistics for e-cigarette use among children showed 9% of those aged 11 to 15 used them, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health has said it could be as high as 15%. There is research showing that young people who vape are three times more likely to subsequently smoke than those who do not.
The Liberal Democrats have urged the government to take action now, before more of our children’s lives are marred by addiction after being drawn into vaping by these innocent-looking, brightly coloured, candy flavoured vapes.
I would urge residents to report any suspicious activity and for parents to pay close attention to their children’s behaviour. Some disposable pens contain more than ten times the legally permitted dosage of nicotine. Even one sale cannot be tolerated, and Trading Standards remain vigilant to the ongoing dangers of a child using these products.
If you see something that concerns you relating to the sale of illegal tobacco, non-compliant disposable vapes or underage sales, please report it to Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Service (CACS). They can be contacted either by calling their helpline on 0808 223 1133 or by visiting their website.
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