The growing and concerning problem of young people vaping was discussed at Gwynedd Council today. In the UK the proportion of children experimenting with vaping has grown by 50% year on year*, from one in thirteen to one in nine.
Plaid Cymru’s education cabinet leader, Cllr Beca Brown announced at full council meeting (6 July) of innovative plans in place at Gwynedd to support school pupils, raise awareness of the dangers of vaping and substance misuse including the negative impact it has on the body, the mental health implications and the anti-social element. A grant application has been made to support this work.
Councillor Elin Hywel, who represents Pwllheli North resident on Gwynedd Council said: “As a parent myself and living in a busy town, vaping is fast becoming a problem for families, our communities and our wonderful secondary schools, all across Wales.
“School staff alone, can not be expected to deal with this issue within the educational settings. We need an integrated and co-ordinated national approach to tackle this issue.
“I am concerned that it is fast becoming a socially acceptable activity and one which will cause a health havoc in our youngsters as they progress into adulthood. Research suggests that youngsters who vape at a young age, become addicted to nicotine and progress to become smokers. We already know the health implications of becoming addicted to nicotine.
“I am pleased that Gwynedd is taking positive action on this issue to support young people, families, schools and our communities. Education is key, and we need to work hard, in the face of multinational companies with huge marketing budgets who are irresponsibly enticing youngsters to try fruit flavoured, mint and menthol vapes in colourful products in our shops and supermarkets across Wales. It is a national scandal, in my view!”
YouGov research for ASH in June showed that 20.5% of children in the UK had tried vaping**
According to the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health; “There is growing evidence that vapes are becoming a gateway product to nicotine addiction amongst young people and that young non-smokers who use vapes are more likely than non-users to take up smoking.”
Councillor Elin Hywel continued: “Vaping has been utilised very effectively by the NHS as a method of reducing or eliminating dependency on cigarettes in heavy smokers. However more recently vaping itself has become a go to for youngsters. Attractive advertising and targeting of our youth by vaping companies is a very real problem across Wales, unfortunately with unknown long term health implications.”
Vapes use aerosol produced by e-cigarettes often containing a mixture of chemicals like nicotine and more concerning ingredients like formaldehyde and acrolein. It is extremely concerning that there are no rules and regulations about how vapes or e-cigarettes are made in the UK.
“As the education leader in Gwynedd, we can not bury our heads in the sand on this issue. We need to tackle this problem head on and support our young people now to make positive health decisions that can prove fundamental to their future lives.” said Plaid Cymru education leader, Councillor Beca Brown.
“Research shows that the challenge of youngsters starting to vape comes from a specific age profile, mainly associated with secondary schools. As a result, it is important that we support schools to review and adapt relevant policies.
“It is also essential that schools design their curriculum to meet specific challenges associated with vaping. The Curriculum for Wales and its Health and Wellbeing area of learning and experience is a suitable platform for Gwynedd schools to achieve this.
“I am proud as a Plaid Cymru representative to be leading the way in tackling this issue in Gwynedd. As a parent myself, the health and well-being of Gwynedd’s learners and young people is paramount to me.”
Councillor Beca Brown encouraged councillors at the meeting to share and promote her concluding comments: “It is the responsibility of each and everyone one of us to ensure that we report any illegal cases of selling vapes to children and young people under the age of 18 through the Trading Standards service and North Wales Police. Let’s work together to tackle this issue at every level possible.”
* & ** The survey of smoking and vaping attitudes and behaviour among 11-18 year olds, has been carried out annually in Spring each year by YouGov for ASH.
The report published in June 2023 is titled 'Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) E-cigarette use (vapes) among young people in the UK 2023.'
For more info click on the link: https://ash.org.uk/uploads/Use-of-vapes-among-young-people-GB-2023.pdf?v=1686042690