Recent figures show that 1 in 7 young people in St Helens claim to regularly vape, while 52% say they have tried vaping but not a cigarette. The data was released during a week when national statistics revealed a 50% rise in children experimenting with vaping.
The data indicates that disposable e-cigarettes are popular among 71% of young vapers and 40% purchase them directly from a shop. Conversely, smoking levels in this age group are at their all-time lowest – at 5%.
It is illegal to sell vaping products to under-18s, however, several teenagers share social media posts about their vaping experiences and favourite flavours.
The latest data was documented by YouGov in March and April 2021, and it will be submitted as part of the Government’s call for evidence on measures to reduce the number of young people accessing vaping while enabling e-cigarettes’ use by adults who want to quit smoking.
The trends indicate a rapid growth of in-store promotion of vapes, using brightly coloured pack displays, which are reminiscent of cigarette displays from the past. Many young individuals who transitioned from cigarettes to vaping cited vaping as a less harmful alternative and it appears that vaping remains a popular choice for many.
The study conducted highlights the growth of online awareness of vapes, from 24% to 32%. 49% of children who saw vapes promoted online said that they saw them on TikTok, 29% on YouTube, 28% on Instagram, and 24% on Snapchat.
The statistics indicate a need for stronger regulations and greater government intervention to address the child-friendly promotion of these attractive and cheap products. The Government has recently announced an ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ to remove illegal products and stop them from crossing the borders.
As vaping continues to affect the young population in St Helens and the whole of the United Kingdom, it is essential that stronger regulations be put in place to curb underage access to vaping products. This will help ensure that e-cigarettes remain a useful tool for adults who want to stop smoking without compromising the health of the young population.