Parents have for the longest time been worried about their under 18 kids experimenting with vaping products. However, things have now just gotten out of hand after reports emerged that several entrepreneurial Teesside youngsters have been found selling vaping products to peers in schools.
These reports have health chiefs, teachers and parents worried about the dangers the vaping products expose these youngsters to. Selling vaping products to those under 18 years is illegal in the UK. However, when it’s an under 18 sneaking them to school that is a different story. This is something that Mandy Mackinnon, a public health official acknowledges: “We’ve also learned some of our young people have been entrepreneurs and are selling vapes in schools, so we’re working with schools on that front.
A more frightening detail from the reports of kids vaping in schools and outside school gates is the use of Geek Bars instead of the normal vaping products. Mandy also recognizes this as another major problem that they are working on.
“We’re also working with trading standards on Geek Bars. This is a slang term for vapes that have a higher dosage of nicotine, and aren’t regulated in the same way as others,” she said.
Cllr McCoy feels that it’s time the government should take tough measures to make vaping products less accessible to kids. He believes kids vaping is a direct result of the promotion of vaping products. He says: “I think as we go on there is going to be more and more evidence of the effect it’s having on younger people.”
In the past year alone the Stockton trading standards team has confiscated over 3,000 illegal products. Some of these potentially dangerous products targeted children by featuring cartoons and flavors found in bubblegum and ice cola among many other children’s snacks.
The conversation around vaping among kids has brought in many governments official who seeks to offer their support to end the problem. Council leader Cllr Bob Cook who quit smoking in 1996 after 20 years of being a chain smoker says that inhaling anything other than oxygen is dangerous for your health. Cllr Steve Nelson on his part believes that the problem lies with the tobacco companies who are always on the lookout for the next generation of customers.
Sarah Bowman-Abouna, the public health chief believes that the problem is in how e-cigarettes are promoted. Ideally, the government only allows for the promotion of e-cigarettes as aids for weaning addicts off smoking. But many promotional materials for e-cigarettes including their names and attractive packages target youngsters.
“To be clear, we’re promoting vaping as a quit-aid for smoking. We absolutely wouldn’t promote vaping to anybody who didn’t already smoke – certainly not to children,” she said.
Former smoker Cllr Clare Gamble professes the effectiveness of vapes as an aid to help smokers quiet. She says: “I quit smoking after 15 years of using a vape as a quit aid so I think the “stop and swap” is a really good incentive if you look at the price of vapes.”
All leaders agree that while vapes are useful tools for people who want to quit smoking, all efforts need to be put in place to make sure they do not find their way in the hands of children or adults who have never smoked. They say more needs to be done to prevent kids from vaping in school.