Like many places around the world, levels of vaping amongst adolescents locally have increased in recent years. We want to provide parents, carers, schools, health professionals and others who work with young people with clear information on vaping.
Working with Smokefree Sheffield we have produced a set of resources to help young people and those supporting them to better understand vaping and the potential harms (when not used as an aid to quit smoking). The resources are specific to the Bailiwick of Guernsey and our local laws.
The resources can be found at the bottom of this page and can be downloaded and used as you wish. They include a leaflet for parents and carers, two posters that can be downloaded and displayed and a PowerPoint presentation for teachers. There is also a short video (see above) which could be used in assemblies or group sessions, shared on social media or to help parents/carers have conversations with their children.
What is vaping?
Vaping is the use of an electronic device to inhale vapour derived from a heated liquid. The main ingredients are vegetable glycerine and propylene glycol, but most e-liquids also contain nicotine, which must be no more than 2% or 20mg per ml, as well as small amounts of flavourings and sweeteners. Local surveys show that the number of Year 8 and 10 pupils vaping regularly (more than once a week) increased from 2% in 2019 to 10% in 2022. Vaping regularly is more common amongst older pupils;16% of Year 10s compared to 3% of Year 8s.
Smoking versus vaping
Smoking is much more harmful than vaping. Tobacco smoke contains carbon monoxide and tar, a sticky soup of around 250 toxic chemicals, 69 of which are known to be carcinogenic, causing disease, disability, and early death.
However, vapes are not harmless. The short-term effects can include coughing, headaches, dizziness and sore throats. As of yet, the long-term effects are unknown. The majority of vapes contain nicotine, sometimes of unknown amounts, which is highly addictive and can be harmful to the developing brains of young people. Vape use is also associated with the use of other tobacco products that have well known negative impacts on health.
How do vapes help smokers quit?
Like nicotine patches and gum, vapes containing nicotine are a useful aid to quitting as they deal with the cravings smokers get when they try to stop. Some people find nicotine vapes effective and they have become the most popular quitting aid for smokers in recent years. However, vapes are not recommended for non-smokers, particularly children and young people. The message is simple, if you don’t smoke, don’t start to vape.
Having conversations with your child about vaping
• Find the right moment – for example when you see someone vaping, walk past a vape shop or see adverts.
• Ask questions - What do they think about vaping? Do they know people who vape? Why do they think people vape?
• Listen to them, learn from them, but also use your knowledge to help them understand the facts and that vapes are not harmless.
• Talk about your expectations, explain your concerns and tell them why you don’t want them to vape or smoke and to make clear that although neither are recommended, smoking is the far greater risk.
• Let them know that you care about them, explain that those who sell vapes to children and young people don’t care who they sell to, and they are just interested in making money.
• Talk about the different reasons why children may vape, give examples such as wanting to fit in, curiosity or stress.
• Talk through effective ways to respond if they ever feel pressured to try it and practise responding together.
If your child is vaping, try to understand why they are vaping by asking questions like “What do you enjoy about vaping?” Or “How does vaping make you feel?”. Understanding this might help you to understand their needs and discuss other ways to meet those needs.
If you have any questions or would like further information about vaping or smoking, please contact our Tobacco Harm Reduction Officer, Lucy Cave at email@example.com
Thank you to Smokefree Sheffield for allowing us to adapt and share their resources.