Agenda item

Vaping and Young People.


The Committee considered a report of the Director of Public Health regarding work that was being carried out relating to vaping and young people in Leicestershire. A copy of the report, marked ‘Agenda Item 9’, is filed with these minutes.


Arising from discussions the following points were noted:


(i)           Vaping was originally intended to be a safer alternative to smoking and a way to stop people smoking. However, it had now become a problem in itself and had been linked to some lung complaints. The full extent of the impact of vaping on the body was not yet known. Vapes contained nicotine which was addictive. Members were of the view that all this information needed to be better communicated to the public, particularly to parents of children that were vaping.


(ii)         In November 2022 a survey was conducted to gain feedback on the use and prevalence of E-cigarettes amongst young people in Leicestershire. There were 1100 respondents, and it was found that 25% of children used vapes. Some of the children vaping had previously smoked tobacco whereas others had started vaping without any previous smoking history. Members welcomed the numbers that responded to the survey but were extremely concerned about the findings.


(iii)        Leicestershire Trading Standards reported receiving a total of 84 complaints regarding vapes, 63 relating to children under the age of 18 years old being sold vapes. Members raised serious concerns that selling vapes to children was illegal but giving them out for free was not.


(iv)       Vapes were attractive to young people because the packaging used bright colours and there were different flavours. Action needed to be taken to change the way vapes were being marketed.


(v)         The Government was intending to create the first smokefree generation by passing legislation to prevent children turning 14 from ever being legally sold tobacco products. Members emphasised that these proposals also needed to cover vaping. There was no national direction on what support should be available to help young people stop vaping. Members felt that tackling the problem of vaping required a more strategic approach supported by legislation.


(vi)       It was suggested that vaping could be made available by prescription only, which would ensure that only the appropriate people were able to vape.


(vii)      Between October and December 2023 the Government had carried out a consultation regarding creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping. The proposals to tackle the problem of vaping included restricting the number of different flavours, requiring vendors to have a licence, and imposing a duty on the sale of vapes. Both the Public Health and Trading Standards departments at Leicestershire County Council had responded to the consultation.


(viii)    Funding had been allocated to Local Authority Stop Smoking services through the Smokefree Generation Programme, resulting in an additional estimated £716,000 being allocated to Leicestershire Public Health from 2024/25 to 2028/29 in line with the grant conditions. Leicestershire Trading Standards were also being allocated some of the Smokefree Generation Programme funds in order to tackle illicit products arriving in the county at East Midlands Airport.


(ix)       Were schools and parents to have any information or concerns about the underage sales of vapes and tobacco they should make contact with Trading Standards by reporting via the anonymous helpline.


(x)         In the past Leicestershire Trading Standards carried out test purchasing in stores using underage children to see if the shops would sell products that they should not to people of that age. However, Trading Standards no longer had the funding and resources to carry out test purchasing. Therefore, Trading Standards now had to take a more reactive approach and only visit premises where intelligence had been received that the shop was making illegal sales. In those cases, Trading Standards would give a warning to the establishment, and if there was sufficient evidence take enforcement action. Prosecutions were now being carried out much more quickly by way of a fixed penalty notice rather than requiring the person to attend court.


(xi)       Adults were provided with vapes as part of the smoking cessation service but they were given the information to enable them to make an informed decision and required to provide identification. These people were then monitored.




(a)        That the contents of the report be noted with concern;


(b)        That the Chairman be authorised to write to all Leicestershire MPs on behalf of the Committee raising concerns about vaping and asking for help with regards enacting legislation to tackle the problem.


Supporting documents: