The children's commissioner for England has urged ministers to crack down on the "insidious" marketing of vapes to young people.
Dame Rachel de Souza said that she was "shocked" and "concerned" after finding out that vaping was normalised among "children as young as 12."
Discussing a report that looked further into children's relationship with vaping, the Commissioner said that children vaping is a "fast-growing problem", that is "still poorly understood by many parents and services supporting children."
One of the main concerns highlighted by Dame Rachel was the "highly addictive" nature of vapes, citing children saying they "now struggle to concentrate for whole lessons." Chemicals that are found in vapes, such as nickel and lead, can affect brain development and the central nervous system.
Dame Rachel continued to say that "stricter regulation" is needed to stop children from accessing, and getting addicted to vapes. She added that for those who are already addicted, "we must provide swift and non-judgemental health-based support to them."
Her comments were supported by data from 2022 which suggests that 16 per cent of 11-17-year-olds have tried vaping. Meanwhile, so little is known about the potential long-term health effects and potential harms for young people. "A single e-liquid pod can contain as much nicotine as a pack of tobacco cigarettes and last on average 600 puffs," the report states. "Nicotine exposure during the teenage years can harm brain development, impacting learning, memory, and attention until the age of around 25."
The report comes after the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health called for a ban on disposable vapes earlier in the week.
A spokesperson for the Department for Health and Social Care said: "It is illegal to sell nicotine vapes to children and we are concerned about the recent rises in youth vaping - particularly because of the unknown long-term harms.
"We are taking bold action to crack down on youth vaping through the £3 million illicit vapes enforcement squad to tackle underage sales to children.
"We have also launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products and explore where the Government can go further."
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