Vaping and young people: a topic being blown out of proportion?

Vaping and young people: a topic being blown out of proportion?

It seems as though at least once a week a new story emerges in the media with regards to vaping and its prevalence amongst young people. With many of these reports designed to cause widespread panic and significantly lacking in proof, we went in search of evidence backed data from the industry experts.

Last week we gave you a roundup of the key takeaways from a section of Public Health England’s latest evidence update in light of the Government’s ‘Tobacco Control Plan for England’. Another major part of which has sought to address the prevalence and characteristics of vaping in young people, given the rising concerns on this matter amongst the British public.

And their main findings?

First off, there is a significant emphasis on the regular use of e-cigarettes among young people remaining low in Britain, despite experimentation with vaping having increased in recent years. To quantify, only 1.7% of under-18s are currently using e-cigarettes weekly or more, and the vast majority of those also smoke tobacco cigarettes.

On the other hand, for those who have never smoked but regularly vape, the figure is as little as 0.2%.

Professor John Newton, Health Improvement Director at Public Health England, has commented: “In contrast to recent media reports in the US, we are not seeing a surge in e-cigarette use among young people in Britain. Though we will keep a close watch on young people’s vaping habits to ensure we stay on track to achieve our ambition of a smoke-free generation.”

In an interview on Sky News, he also addressed the countless tabloid articles that appeared following the PHE publication, pointing out that “…the newspapers don’t give the full story.”

Which is putting it mildly.

Since PHE’s report, extreme headlines including ‘We are facing a teen vaping epidemic’ and ‘Number of children vaping doubles in five years’, just go to show how fundamentally the media are missing the point.

What should be making the headlines are the opportunities with which to further reduce the harms caused by tobacco, by encouraging more smokers to try vaping and for ‘dual-users’ to switch completely through schemes such as the Stop Smoking Services.

Especially since only 4% of current quit attempts through this service are made using e-cigarettes, despite this being an effective approach.

And whilst this smoke-free campaign continues, other measures have also been suggested to help control the use of e-cigarettes by young people, including increased surveillance where vaping goods can be procured, as well as bodies such as the IBVTA introducing more stringent policies to create confidence in the products and in the industry as a whole, so that more smokers make the switch to vaping.

Throwing the word ‘epidemic’ around is nothing more than a scare tactic when it comes to vaping and younger people, however, it is still an issue we will continue as a brand to remain vigilant over, to ensure that we are protecting our customers.

In our Red Box Vape outlets, we do not sell goods to under 18’s and we also do not advocate the sale of vape products to non-smokers. Our long-term goal is very much aligned to that of PHE and IBVTA – working towards a smoke-free generation. As ultimately, it is the tobacco that is causing the harm and the 74,000 premature deaths per year in Britain alone.

Isn’t that the current epidemic that the media should be making noise about?


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