Posted: Tue 15th Aug 2023

Public Health Wales sets up ‘Incident Response Group’ to tackle growing trend of vaping among children

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Tuesday, Aug 15th, 2023

Public Health Wales is taking action to address the growing trend of vaping among children and teenagers.

A new approach has been unveiled to tackle the issue head-on, as studies indicate a significant surge in vaping habits among Welsh secondary school students.

Recent research by the School Health Research Network underscores the gravity of the situation.

From 2019 to 2022, vaping among secondary school students, particularly girls, rose sharply.

Feedback from parents and headteachers over the past year indicates that this trend might have intensified.

More alarmingly, there are signs that an increasing number of youngsters might be developing an unhealthy dependence on these products.

Although vaping serves as a useful aid for smokers trying to quit, its use among non-smokers, especially the young, is fraught with health risks.

Experts unanimously agree that habitual vaping might expose users, especially the young, to the hazards of nicotine addiction.

Symptoms of nicotine addiction range from attention deficits, mood swings, impulsiveness, to sleep disorders – all of which could adversely affect education, relationships, and general wellbeing.

The potential impact on a still-developing brain further accentuates the concerns.

The market isn’t just dominated by legal vapes. Illegal vaping products, often boasting higher nicotine content than permitted by UK regulations, have made their way to the high streets.

These illicit products have been found to contain harmful chemicals and heavy metals such as lead, nickel, and chromium.

There’s also growing apprehension about these products being sold to individuals below the age of 18.

The issue has prompted Public Health Wales, working with our partners, to establish an Incident Response Group (IRG), which are more commonly used to organise the urgent containment of incidents of communicable disease.

The IRG is a multi-agency group made up of experts from a variety of relevant fields including Welsh Government, Public Health Wales, Local Health Boards, Stop Smoking Service providers, Ash Cymru, Directors of Public Protection Wales, NHS paediatric and respiratory specialists and representatives from Education and Schools.

The IRG will immediately set out to gather evidence to confirm the incident, gain a perspective on its scope, and investigate and identify the causes.

The group will then make recommendations to reduce the risk of ongoing harm and provide opportunities for collective action to address the problem.

Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health Wales and Chair of the IRG, said: “Vaping has not been around long enough for the risks of long-term use to be fully understood particularly among young people where there may be greater risks to the developing brain.

“Unfortunately, there is some evidence that use of vaping products is growing among young people in Wales and schools are increasingly raising concern about the impact vaping is having on some young people’s education.

“The establishment of the incident response group will allow Public Health Wales to gain an insight into the current extent of this issue, as well as identify opportunities with partners in education, healthcare and Welsh Government to prevent further harms as soon as possible.”

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