A 12-year-old girl from Belfast has warned other children not to start vaping after she was hospitalised. Her call came after the UK government announced a series of measures to tackle the rise of vaping among young people.
Sarah Griffin, an asthma sufferer, spent 4 days in a medically-induced coma in September when her lung collapsed. While she is now recovering at home, she has permanent damage to her lungs. Her, and her mum Mary, spoke to the BBC and other media outlets about her story.
Sarah told the Irish breakfast TV programme, Ireland AM, that she had first vaped when she was 9 but started vaping properly when she started secondary school. She said she and friends would put their money together to share vapes, but then she started buying her own. Sarah said she liked the flavours and described it as something cool to do.
According to the BBC, Sarah was getting through a 4,000-puff vape in a few days. A normal vape usually contains 600 puffs. Sarah’s message to other young people considering vaping was: “”Don’t start doing it, because once you start doing it, you don’t stop doing it,”
“You only stop when you basically have to, when it’s a life-or-death situation.”
Growing numbers of children are vaping
The government measures followed an earlier consultation, and increasing concern from education and health professionals, as well as local authorities and MPs, about e-cigarettes being marketed at young people, and the growth in the use of disposable vapes.
As we recently reported the latest Office of National Statistics survey covering 2022 found that the total proportion of young people aged 16 to 24 years who were daily or occasional vapers in 2022 increased to 15.5% compared with 11.1% in 2021.
Meanwhile research by the public health charity, ASH, found that in March/April 2023 the proportion of 11-17 years olds experimenting with vaping had grown by 50% year on year, from one in thirteen to one in nine. In 2023 ASH found that 20.5% of children had tried vaping, up from 15.8% in 2022 and 13.9% in 2020. Most had only vaped once or twice (11.6%), while 7.6% were currently vaping (3.9% less than once a week, 3.6% more than once a week) while the rest (1.3% in 2023) said they no longer vape.
Government measures to tackle children vaping
The government has launched a new consultation on its proposed changes to the law that it hopes will reduce the attractiveness of vaping for children, while continuing to offer vaping as an option for those that want to quit smoking.
- restrict vape flavours
- regulate vape packaging and product presentation
- regulate point of sale displays
- restrict the sale of disposable vapes
- introduce an age restriction for non-nicotine vapes
- explore further restrictions for other nicotine consumer products such as nicotine pouches
- prevent the industry giving out free samples of vapes to children
Meanwhile, Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary told his party conference that, if elected, a Labour government would come down “like a ton of bricks” on “the vaping industry, who have sought to addict a generation of children to nicotine with flavours like rainbow burst and cotton candy ice.”
Monitoring vaping in schools
It will take time for the government to finalise the changes in the law and to get this passed but already UK schools have found that, like their counterparts in the US, Australia and New Zealand, they need to tackle the growing numbers of their students who are vaping right now.
ASH has developed guidance for schools and local authorities that can help develop policies and work with children to combat vaping . Meanwhile, vape detectors can help schools to understand the scale of the problem so they can address vaping in a serious way. However, as indicated in a previous blog, we suggest schools take their time to select the right product, especially when budgets are tight so you do not want money to be wasted.
We offer the HALO Smart Sensor which uses a dynamic vape detection algorithm to automatically learn the environment and alert when vaping is detected. The HALO is also the only product that can alert and differentiate between vaping, vaping with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which is found in cannabis, and intentionally masking vaping behaviour, for example, by using aerosols to cover up vaping. The Halo Smart Sensor is also the only sensor on the market that can detect ‘Heat Not Burn’ vapes, ensuring the Halo can detect ALL varieties of vapes.
The benefits of the HALO Smart Sensor
If students become suspicious of a new sensor within a toilet block there is a potential that they will become a target for the students to tamper with or they may try and remove the vape detector. The HALO Smart Sensor will detect if it is being interfered with and a notification will be sent seconds after the detection. Additionally, if students do try to tamper with the device, they will not be able to damage it because it has an IK 10 rating making it vandal resistant.
As the HALO is a POE device it has a networked internet connection, rather than relying on Wi-Fi, and the power cable is more secure preventing students simply pulling devices off the ceiling and unplugging them, which has been reported by a number of schools who have fitted other devices.
Additionally, the HALO detects aggression through monitoring abnormal noise levels and recognised keywords that are used for calls for help. These features could be useful for managing vaping when it is associated with intimidation or other poor behaviour by students.
If your school or college is looking to tackle the issue of increased numbers of young people vaping, please contact us to find out more how we can help.