A number of councils in Scotland have seen a significant rise in pupils vaping in high schools, according to reports.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has called for advertising and promotion of the products to be restricted amid warnings that young people experimenting with vapes are at a higher risk of using tobacco products.
An STV investigation has suggested the number of pupils using the products has increased over the past four years.
Fife schools saw the biggest change, where 121 vapes were confiscated in 2021/22 compared to none in 2018/19.
Schools in South Ayrshire confiscated 121 vapes in 2021/22 – but only confiscated two in 2018/19.
Dundee City Council also reported no confiscations of e-cigarettes in 2018/19, which rose to 83 in 2021/22.
The investigation saw Freedom of Information requests submitted to all 32 local authorities by STV news. Some authorities did not respond and others did not collect data on vape confiscations.
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The report also found similar incidents at schools in Clackmannanshire, Inverclyde, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire.
Chief executive of ASH Scotland Sheila Duffy told STV News the vape promotions on social media platforms was “troubling”.
She said: “We are particularly concerned that vape sweet flavours, vibrant colouring and packaging are attractive to young people, and their use is often influenced by advertising portraying vaping products in a positive light, which is noticed more by youths than adults.
“The influence of vape promotions on social media platforms accessed by teenagers is also troubling. Many vapes include toxic e-liquids that have not been safety tested for inhalation and could damage health over time – this is especially worrying for children and young people as their lungs are still growing.
“Research also indicates that young people experimenting with vapes are at a higher risk of using tobacco products, which is a prospect we should all want our children to avoid.”
Ms Duffy also called for action to be taken to clamp down on online promotions as well as penalties on retailers found selling vaping products to underage children.
A report by ASH showed that the majority of youth were drawn to vapes due to their appearance on popular social media platforms.
TikTok was the platform where promotions were seen most frequently with 45% of youngsters seeing vape promotions. Instragram followed with 31%.
Gillian Golden, Chief Executive of Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) told STV News: “Social media platforms supposedly have policies to prevent promotion of vapes to children, but they do little to enforce them.
“We monitor and report infringements to social media platforms, but they rarely take any action, with TikTok being the worst offender.”
TikTok told STV News that it “strictly prohibits content” depicting the sale of tobacco, including vaping products.
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation on creating further guidance to limit the promotion of vape products.
A spokesperson said: “We are concerned by the increasing number of young people gaining access to vape products as indicated by this investigation.
“Stores are legally required to operate age verification procedures and ensure all staff know how to operate them.
“Stores selling these products to under 18s should be reported to local authority trading standards officers.
“An independent report on our consultation on potentially introducing further restrictions on advertising and promoting vaping products will be published this summer.
“This will be used to inform future policy decisions.”
Public health expert Linda Bauld warned that the risk of vapes to those who have never smoked remained unknown.
She added: “There are likely to be harms from long-term vaping for respiratory health and then the other element, of course, is many of the products contain nicotine, which by itself is not harmful to health but it is addictive and it is what keeps people using vaping.