Students at Baxter College in Kidderminster were found to be using vapes that contained unsafe levels of potentially dangerous chemicals during a BBC investigation. As part of the investigation, a batch of confiscated vapes was sent for analysis and most were identified as illegal, with higher-than-permitted tank sizes and nicotine levels. Tests also revealed that vapes designed to look like highlighter pens were found to contain 2.4 times the safe exposure level of lead, 9.6 times the safe level of nickel, and 6.6 times the safe level of chromium.
Baxter College had fitted vape sensors in student toilets as part of an anti-vaping awareness campaign. The school principal, Matthew Carpenter, said that the increasing use of vapes among school children was a national issue, leading them to install detectors. It is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, but research suggests that vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds increased from 7.7% to 11.6% last year.
Carpenter stressed that although vaping may be considered less harmful than smoking, children should not be encouraged to take it up as a lifestyle choice via attractive packaging and social media. This, he said, is particularly important given the potential health risks, including to students’ brains and bodies.
Vape pens are an increasingly popular form of electronic cigarette; their usage is based on vaporising a liquid (vape juice) that usually contains flavours, glycerol, nicotine, and other chemicals. While these can be less harmful than combustible cigarettes, it is still important to purchase from trusted distributors , as problems arise from counterfeit products, untested juice, poor quality wicks, and battery explosions.
The BBC investigation highlights the importance of purchasing high-quality vapes, and discouraging the use of vaping by children and youth. Misleading marketing tactics and low-quality products highlight the need for regulations that will protect the public against unscrupulous vapers.