Recent figures suggest the number of Sheffield’s children and young people who smoke is continuing to decline – from 8% in 2017 to 5% in 2022.
However, there has been an increase in the number of children and young people who are currently using vapes and e-cigarettes. In the UK, the proportion of 11–17-year-olds that are currently vaping has increased from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022.
Although this is a cause for concern, it’s worth noting that 92% of under 18s who have never smoked, have also never vaped, and only 2% have vaped more frequently than once or twice.
It is also important to remember that vapes are proven as a successful method to support adult smokers to quit smoking. Vapes provide nicotine without tobacco smoke which contains carbon monoxide and tar which are both toxic. Smoking remains one of the biggest killers, accounting for 15% of all deaths in the UK in 2019 and killing up to two thirds of all long-term smokers prematurely.
Vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking, however, vapes are not recommended for use by children and young people, or anyone who has never smoked, as vaping is not harmless. In the short term, people may suffer from headaches, sore throats, dizziness, and coughs. And although vapes have been around for over 15 years, there isn’t yet enough evidence to know what the long-term effects might be.
There are many myths and misconceptions about the use of vapes, especially from children and young people.
This new campaign gives the evidence-based facts about vaping to children and young people and supports schools, colleges, and parents to have conversations with children and young people about vaping so they can make informed decisions.
The key takeaway from the campaign is: Don’t smoke? Don’t start to vape.
You can watch our short animation here which highlights the key facts:
If you’re a parent who is worried about your child or young person vaping, the resources at the bottom of this page can help you to have positive conversations with them about the risks of smoking and vaping, the law, and the impact on the environment.
If you are from a school, college, or are a safeguarding lead there are a range of resources below you may find useful including:
- Two posters which can be displayed where students will see them, such as school toilets, classrooms, canteens, and noticeboards. Both digital and printed versions are available.
- A short, animated film which can be used in PSHE lessons, form times and assemblies, to start discussions.
- PowerPoint slides ready for use by teachers in the classroom alongside the animated film to guide discussions.
- To back up the slides for classroom use is a more detailed slideset for teachers, providing additional information to support educators, answering questions and signposting to additional support.
- An electronic leaflet designed for parents and carers giving more information about smoking and vaping.
All the resources can be downloaded below.
Vapes as well as cigarettes are age-restricted products – meaning that they shouldn’t be sold to under 18s. But the most common way for a young person to buy them is in a shop, which is illegal. Those who knowingly sell to under 18s don’t care who they sell to and are just interested in making money.
There is also the damage to the environment, with more than 1.3 million single use disposable vapes being thrown away in the UK every week, especially as it’s hard to recycle them. With many of these disposables vapes ending up in landfill sites, dangerous chemicals are finding their way into the ecosystem.