How Highly Addictive Vapes Are Putting Your Child At Risk – All You Need To Know

Caught in a puff of steam that smells like strawberries, you might think, “Well, at least it’s not cigarette smoke.”

But concerns about the risks of vape products are growing, especially given the huge increase in young people using them.

Concerns about young people using vape products are growing


Concerns about young people using vape products are growingPhoto credit: Getty
Packaging that looks tempting to children could be banned in an amendment that can't come soon enough for some parents and teachers


Packaging that looks tempting to children could be banned in an amendment that can’t come soon enough for some parents and teachersPhoto credit: Getty

Last week, The Sun exclusively announced that Health Secretary Neil O’Brien will launch a call for evidence before restricting access to highly addictive fruit-flavored fruits for under-18s.

Disposable vapes cannot be charged or refilled, often come in pen form and tend to be cheaper, starting at around £4, compared to rechargeable vapes that can be refilled with e-liquid.

Kid-friendly packaging and sweet flavors, from Apple Peach and Cotton Candy Ice to Strawberry Kiwi, could be banned, a change that can’t come soon enough for parents, teachers and medical professionals.

GP Dr. Rachel Ward, of Woodland Medical Center in Didcot, Oxon, says: “The development of flavors like this is difficult to defend.

“The concern for those targeting young people is that even if they start using vapes without nicotine, they may switch to nicotine-containing products and their chance of starting smoking will increase.”

In fact, researchers at the University of California, San Diego found that teens who vape are three times more likely to become regular smokers – a habit that kills around 76,000 people in the UK each year.

TOO SIMPLE: In the UK it’s illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to buy or have vaping products sold, but for young teenagers it’s frighteningly easy to get their hands on.

Around 4.3 million of us use e-cigarettes, often to quit smoking, but children as young as six have tried vapes.

Advocacy group Action On Smoking & Health (ASH) says 15.8 percent of 11- to 17-year-olds were vaping in 2022, up from 11.2 percent the year before, and activist Sheila Duffy said: “We have alarming numbers Evidence of this includes elementary school age children who have vapes.”

Teachers at Copthall School in Mill Hill, north London, have called for vape sensors in toilets and police visits to deter children.

Some major supermarkets have already pulled Elfbar vapes from their shelves amid concerns that the Chinese-made products contain illegal levels of nicotine.

In February, ITV reported that watermelon-flavoured Elfbar 600 contained at least 50 per cent more than the legal limit for nicotine e-liquid.

PLASTIC PROBLEM: Last year, 52.8 percent of vapers used cheap disposable products, up from 7.8 percent in 2021.

Almost 170 million pen-sized vapes, such as Elfbar, Geek Bar, Aroma King and Elux, are now imported annually, costing just £4 and throwing away two every second.

Pets and wild animals can eat empty vapes containing toxic nicotine and lithium, and RSPCA Officer Evie Button said: “Trash is one of the biggest threats to wildlife.

“Discarded vapes increase risk.”

Teens who vape are more likely to become regular smokers


Teens who vape are more likely to become regular smokers

THE RISKS: dr Ward said: “Many vapes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and often leads to symptoms such as restlessness, stress, irritability and poor concentration when nicotine levels start to dip.

“Nicotine addiction can also be linked to mental health issues such as depression.

“There is evidence that nicotine also affects the developing brains of adolescents.”

HEART PROBLEMS: Long-term use can cause worrying changes in the heart and blood vessels, impairing function and increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The American Heart Association says these effects can increase over time, while researchers at the University of Wisconsin found that regular vapers perform worse on stress tests, which assess the heart’s working capacity.

Individuals who vape and smoke may be at even greater risk.

DNA HAZARD: Researchers at the Keck School of Medicine in the US found that cells from the mouths of vapers and smokers had more than twice the amount of DNA damage associated with an increased risk of cancer than non-users.

The damage was also higher in vapers using sweet mint flavored vapes.

VIRUS WARNING: A University of California study found that vaping puts people at higher risk of developing severe Covid symptoms.

Young, healthy users who contracted Covid had more pneumonia, which could trigger cardiovascular complications.

GET AIR FIRST: According to researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, vapers have a 19 percent higher risk of developing asthma.

And the University of Pennsylvania found that e-cigarette users have more pneumonia than non-smokers and smokers.

AND MORE: Vapers have reportedly blamed their vapes for causing blurred vision, fatigue, and constipation.

The UK regulator of medicines and healthcare products has received reports of side effects such as hearing problems, coughing, hiccups, a sore throat, raspy voice and even dizziness.

US scientists discovered that vaping has a higher risk of tooth decay, and many dermatologists claim the habit can damage skin and contribute to premature aging.

“Less harmful than smoking”

VAPES are recommended by both the NHS and ASH as a safer alternative to cigarettes for existing smokers.

family doctor dr Ward says: “E-cigarettes were developed to help people quit smoking, not as something new for non-smokers.

While vapes contain several toxins, they are less harmful than cigarettes, according to the NHS


While vapes contain several toxins, they are less harmful than cigarettes, according to the NHSPhoto credit: Getty

“We know they’re less harmful than cigarettes, but they still contain several chemicals and toxins that can cause long-term damage.”

Gillian Golden, Chief Executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, says: “Vape products are designed to provide a less harmful alternative for adults who would otherwise smoke and are known to have helped reduce smoking rates in the UK by more than 100% lower 10 years.”

The NHS says a 2021 review found that people who had personal expert support and used vapes were up to twice as likely to quit smoking than those who switched to nicotine patches or gum.

According to a study by the British Heart Foundation, smokers who swapped their cigarettes for e-cigarettes had improved blood vessel health.

Additionally, researchers at the University of Washington found that smokers who became vapers reported better physical health, exercised more, and were more socially active.

Study co-author Marina Epstein said: “Despite the obvious risks for non-smokers, e-cigarettes have the potential to play a health-promoting role in the lives of smokers.”

“Fruit flavors are goals”

Plymouth mother-of-two Sarah thought something was wrong when she smelled sweet scents in her 14-year-old daughter’s room.

When she went through Lizzie’s school bag, she found a vape.

She told Clare O’Reilly: “I was completely shocked. I don’t smoke, neither does her father.”

Lizzie admitted to being drawn to flavors like popcorn, donut and marshmallow and bright packaging that doesn’t have “gross images” like cigarettes.

Sarah says: “It is great that these flavors are being banned, but for many children and young people it is too little too late.

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“The fruit flavors are an entry level flavor, they smell like lip balm or candy, so kids start using them before they move on to other flavors.

“They shouldn’t have existed at all. It might help younger generations not to start vaping, which is good.”


  • CIGARETTES: Mainly tobacco (which contains addictive nicotine). Emits carbon monoxide and tar when smoked, as well as toxic chemicals including benzene, arsenic and formaldehyde.
  • EVAPORATOR: Typically addictive nicotine salt e-liquid with flavors and additives including vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol. How Highly Addictive Vapes Are Putting Your Child At Risk – All You Need To Know

Andrew Schnitker

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