ASH Guidance for Children Vaping in School

/ 4 min read
ASH Guidance for Children Vaping in School

The ongoing disposable vaping craze has been making consistent headlines since late last year (2021). They hit UK shelves hard and have quickly risen to become one of the fastest selling segments of the vaping market.

The devices are brightly coloured, and are available in a massive range of exciting flavours. They all use nicotine salt e-liquid, which delivers a lot of nicotine but with a deceptively smooth taste.

The Dangers of Disposable Vapes

collection of disposable vapes

Because of how quickly they became popular, retailers scrambled to keep stocked, which opened up the market to illegal imports. These contained nicotine and e-liquid levels far above legal limits in the UK and were not safety tested.

There is a growing environmental concern owing to the millions of disposable vapes being dumped every day. They cannot be recycled and are wasting enough lithium each year to produce 1200 electric cars.

Because of performance and design limitations, many consumers have found disposable vapes to carry a false economy – appearing to be cheap initially but costing far more in the long run than similar e-cigarettes like the EDGE GO.

Children Vaping in the UK 

School goers backpack filled with disposable vapes

Due to the number of non-vaping retailers carrying disposable devices, children have been able to get access to disposable vapes with frightening ease. Corner shops and market stalls have been the main source of underage sales.

The youth access issue has become the biggest concern surrounding the rise of disposable vapes, being the primary point of discussion for Trading Standards and industry experts in a recent panel debating the issue.

The latest data shows the number of children vaping is rising, up from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022. This is growing in line with the popularity of disposable vapes.

The number of children who admit to ever trying vaping has risen from 14% in 2020 to 16% in 2022. However, the vast majority of under 18s who have never smoked, have also never vaped, and only 1.9% have vaped more frequently than once or twice.

ASH Guidance for Schools

School classroom

In response to requests for help, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has released new national guidance for schools, to support staff in developing their policies around vaping, which is available here.

ASH has worked with teachers who specialise in safeguarding and health education to develop the guidelines, and ensure they can be properly implemented.

As well as curriculum headlines, the briefing given to schools includes facts on smoking and vaping, questions to inform wider school policies and cultures, and links to helpful resources.

The guidance aims to arm educators with information to support their management of rapidly shifting attitudes and behaviours as the youth vaping phenomenon evolves. The headline messages are that if you don’t smoke, you shouldn’t vape, and that vaping is not for children.

The guidance seeks to create an educated balance however, and while discouraging the act altogether, advises reminding pupils that vaping is still far less harmful than smoking.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said:

“The new vaping guidance for schools recognises growing concerns about children vaping. It is designed as a guide to empower schools with the information they need to develop their policies.”

“We understand that it can be difficult for schools to know what to do about vaping, particularly when online promotion on social media sites like TikTok, is fuelling its use.”

“A whole school approach is needed to address both smoking and vaping, making it part of the curriculum, highlighting the risks, and arming children with the facts so that they can make informed choices. It’s important to remember that the harms to health are significantly greater from smoking.”

The guidance has been welcomed by education chiefs. Assistant Director of Education (ADoE) Diane Buckle of North Tyneside Council had this to say:

“North Tyneside Council is keen to do all we can to help our schools address the growing use of vapes by their pupils.”

“It’s very reassuring to know that the ASH guidance has been developed with help from teachers expert in health education and safeguarding, as well as academic experts in the evidence on vaping.”

“It is very timely and just what’s needed. We will be circulating this guidance to all our schools and encouraging them to use it to ensure that they address youth vaping appropriately.”

Time will now tell how effective the new guidance will be in helping schools to buck the rising trend of underage vaping. We will keep reporting as the latest news breaks on this pivotal moment in British vaping history.

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