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Agenda item

Young People and Vaping

Purpose: To set out the work being undertaken to reduce the consumption of vaping products by young people.


George Lawrence (Team Manager, Public Protection Partnership) presented the report on Young People and Vaping (Agenda Item 14).

The following points were raised in the debate:

·       Members noted that school staff were having to search toilet areas for vapes, which were being shared amongst students. Schools were having to go to extreme measures such as removing doors on toilets to keep children safe from vapes.

·       Vaping was seen as a significant concern, and Members welcomed the fact that the issue was being given attention.

·       It was suggested that messaging should go out through schools and that training was also needed for school staff.

·       Issues around vaping amongst young people had been discussed at the last meeting of the Licensing Committee. It was noted that the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) was undertaking mystery shopping to identify shops involved in selling to underage customers.

·       It was welcomed that the government was introducing legislation to ban disposable vapes.

·       Members asked if the PPP provided advice to retailers. It was noted that some retailers were displaying vapes on open stands in the middle of shops rather than as part of the tobacco counter. Officers explained that the current focus was on users and taking enforcement action against retailers. However, with additional resourcing, the service would be happy to work more closely with retailers and the trade and it was hoped that they would be able to do this next year. Smaller, independent retailers tended to need more support.

·       It was suggested that schools could share ideas on how they were tackling vaping. Some schools had airport-style body scanners to help detect vapes.

·       It was also recognised that parents had a significant role to play and should be encouraged to search their children’s rooms if they were concerned that their children were using vapes. It was suggested that information should go out to parents from schools about having a more robust approach. This could help to reduce pressures on the schools.

·       Members highlighted that vapes were being sold in shops where children went to buy their sweets and they were made to look attractive. It was questioned whether local shop staff were exercising sufficient diligence when questioning the age of young people buying vapes. Police Cadets were being used in test purchases. Officers confirmed that a recent test purchase operation only found one retailer selling to underage customers.

·       Officers also highlighted work around product seizures to identify and confiscate illegal vapes that had not come through the proper import channels. All vape products on sale had to be properly certified. A national programme had tested numerous vapes and found wide variation in the level of nicotine and failures around labelling.

·       The PPP was keen to identify rogue traders and supply chains, and criminal activity.

·       Members asked what was meant by a ‘holistic approach’ and asked if any work was being done through role-play to understand why young people wanted to use vapes, and what was being done to help parents understand the consequences. It was confirmed that drama productions had been used, but they tended to be aimed at children. The PPP welcomed any ideas for how to engage better with other stakeholders.

·       The previous Director of Public Health had written to all schools to explain the risks associated with vaping, and it was suggested that further communications may be appropriate.

Action: April Peberdy to liaise with Paul Graham about a letter to parents around the risks associated with vaping.

·       It was highlighted that vapes were being promoted as a safer alternative to smoking, but they should only be used an interim measure (i.e., a ‘swap to stop’). It was suggested that the messaging needed to reflect this.

RESOLVED to note the report.

Supporting documents: