Experts warn over vaping packaging

Experts and school leaders are warning bright packaging on vaping products may be targeting young people and those who have never previously vaped.

NHS Digital data suggests vaping among secondary school children is rising.

Simon Morton, who is a deputy headteacher at a Nottinghamshire secondary school, said: “It is clear these products are being put in front of young people.”

The government has said it has strict rules to prevent children from vaping.

The long-term effects of vaping are unknown. However, it is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes.

Pupils at Bramcote College in Nottinghamshire said they were increasingly seeing more peers vaping.

Lexi, 16, said: “I think it has affected my age range a lot.

“It has become a normal thing now.

“I think it is quite worrying, even when I’m walking down the street or coming into college, it’s quite worrying how many people I see vaping, or hiding vapes so they don’t get caught with them.”

Reece, 15, said: “You see it on lots of platforms, such as Tik Tok and Instagram, you see people vaping on the videos.

“It is seen as a fashionable thing to do. I also think the packaging has bright colours and it attracts young people.

“Your eyes want to look at things in bright colours. And that’s how vape companies market their products.”

Jamie, 14, said: “I think it is more aimed towards younger people and it is a new addiction.

“I think people now don’t see the effect it is going to have.”

The school has acted by sending out letters to parents and guardians.

Mr Morton said: “There is always going to be something that teenagers gravitate to, whether it is fashion or risk-taking behaviour.

“But it is clear these products are being put in front of young people, day in, day out and make it something that appeals to them.”

Brendan Canavan, an assistant professor in marketing at the University of Nottingham, said he believed the bright colours and branding of the products meant they were being targeted towards youth culture.

“It’s quite sophisticated, much like you would expect to see in the supermarket down the cereal aisle,” he said.

“It’s bright and cheerful and it’s referencing a lot of youth culture stuff, that could be seen as quite interesting and cool at school.

“A lot of young people are vaping and it is easy to understand why.

“The main problem is it is recruiting new people to a new product which – while it might not be as harmful as tobacco – it’s maybe untested and we are unsure about its health consequences.

Vaping products containing nicotine are required by law to carry a warning label on the box.

In 2015, legislation was introduced to ban the sales of vaping products to those under the age of 18.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said the UK had some of the strongest regulations on labelling and advertising in place to prevent children from vaping.

“We have introduced tough regulations to deter the appeal of vaping to children including restrictions on product advertising, setting limits on nicotine strength, labelling and safety requirements and making it illegal to sell nicotine vapes to those aged under 18 years old,” she said.