Home UK News Police to tackle e-cigarettes in schools, as concerns grow over their danger to young people’s health

Police to tackle e-cigarettes in schools, as concerns grow over their danger to young people’s health

Published: Last Updated on
crackdown on illegal vapes

As part of a campaign announced on Tuesday by Rishi Sunak, police will be tasked with ensuring that liaison officers keep illegal vapes out of schools.

The Prime Minister has announced a prohibition on the distribution of vaping samples to children after being “shocked” by reports of lead-containing devices falling into the clutches of schoolchildren.

A review will also be conducted into prohibiting retailers from selling “nicotine-free” vapes to minors, in light of mounting concerns about the use of these products by children.

A second review will seek to make it simpler for local Trading Standards to issue on-the-spot sanctions and fixed penalty notices to shop owners who unlawfully sell e-cigarettes to minors.

It is illegal to sell vapes to minors under the age of 18, but according to recent NHS data, nearly one-tenth (9%) of children aged 11 to 15 used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018.

It follows criticism of the use and promotion of inexpensive, brightly coloured vape products that appear to be marketed to children.

Chris Whitty, England’s Chief Medical Officer, supports Mr. Sunak’s initiative to close a clause that allows retailers to provide free vape samples to minors.

The Prime Minister said: “I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in kids vaping and shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of school children.

“Our new illicit vape enforcement squad – backed by £3m – is on the case, but clearly there is more to do. That is why I am taking further action today to clamp down on rogue firms who unlawfully target our children with these products.

“The marketing and the illegal sales of vapes to children is completely unacceptable and I will do everything in my power to end this practice for good.”

Professor Whitty added: “Whilst vaping can be an effective quitting tool for smokers, it is important that non-smokers are not encouraged to start vaping. There has been a particularly worrying rise in the number of children using vapes, with companies clearly marketing these products at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options.

“Closing the loophole that allows companies to give out free samples of vaping products to under 18s is a very welcome step in tackling some of the harms caused by the vaping industry.

“We should continue to encourage smokers to swap to vaping as the lesser risk, whilst preventing the marketing and sale of vapes to children.”

As a result of a BBC News report uncovering that e-cigarettes confiscated from students in school typically contained high levels of lead, nickel, and chromium, stern action is being taken.

Children using them may inhale more than twice the safe daily amount of lead and nine times the safe daily amount of nickel, which may have adverse effects on their nervous system and mental development.

Health minister, Neil O’Brien, said: “The shameful marketing of vaping products to children is leading to growing numbers trying e-cigarettes.

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“Today, we are therefore ramping up our efforts to stop kids getting hooked on vaping, including taking steps to crack down on companies handing out free vape samples to under 18s and adding lessons on the health risks of vaping within the curriculum for the first time.

“We will also review the rules on issuing on the spot fines to shops that break the law by selling vapes to underage children, and look into banning the sale of nicotine-free vapes to under 18s – which we know can be a gateway to using nicotine products. Alongside this, our new specialised ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ will also clamp down on online shops selling illicit vapes to under 18s.

“This builds on action announced last month to protect our children’s health and tackle underage vaping, whilst exploiting the potential of vaping to help adult smokers quit.”

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