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As reported by BBC News, as the government concludes its consultation on youth vaping, BBC South East explores the repercussions in schools, highlighting the rising popularity, impact on learning, and measures schools are taking, including the introduction of vape alarms
“You find them asking to go out of the lessons to go into the toilets,” said Sade Afolabi, a teacher in Surrey, and spokeswoman for the NASUWT teaching union.
“It is damaging because when you quantify how much time is lost it’s quite a big loss to learning,” she added.
A recent survey by the anti-smoking group ASH found that 20.5% of children aged 11 to 17 had tried vaping, up from 15.8% in 2022.
Many schools have introduced vape alarms to detect whether pupils are using electronic cigarettes in the toilets.
Ashley Crittenden, chair of the Association of Kent Headteachers, said: “It’s about schools having really stringent policies in place, some schools do now have vape alarms and I think they can be effective.
“Whilst suspensions can be an effective tool with managing behaviour, actually it’s about changing people’s mindsets, changing people’s behaviours and whilst young people can get hold of vapes very easily, I think it does come down to the government making some really tough decisions” she added.
Meanwhile, the government has outlined plans to tax vapes and tighten restrictions to curb vaping in young people.
Proposals being considered include:
- limiting flavours to tobacco or tobacco and mint only
- banning displays in shops, so vapes remain hidden, as is the case for cigarettes
- introducing plain packaging, to stop the use of cartoons and animal characters
- banning the use of disposable vapes
VAT is already applied to e-cigarettes but the introduction of a new tax has also been also proposed, to make vapes more expensive.
A group of teenagers at a youth club in East Sussex said vaping had become more popular among their age group.
Sapphire, 13, said: “Everyone will be puffing on their vapes all the time.
“You’ll see it everywhere, if you go into the girls’ toilets, it will just be, like, smoke everywhere.”