The Current situation across Gwent
Recent figures from the School Health Research Network (SHRN) suggest the number of Gwent children and young people (aged 11-16) who smoke is continuing to decline – from 3.9% in 2019 to 3% in 2022.
However, there has been an increase in the number of children and young people who are currently using e-cigarettes/vapes. In the UK, the proportion of 11–17-year-olds that are currently vaping has increased from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022. SHRN Survey data shows that in Wales, 5% of children are weekly users of vapes.
SHRN data shows that 21.3% of young people (aged 11-16) have tried vaping in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, slightly higher than the Welsh average of 20.4%.
Although this is a cause for concern, it’s worth noting that 97% of young people have never smoked and 95% do not currently vape – just 5% of young people in the Gwent area are frequent vape users (SHRN).
Vaping is not harmless
Vaping is not recommended for use by children and young people, or anyone who has never smoked, as vaping is not without harm. In the short term, people may suffer from headaches, sore throats, dizziness, and coughs. Although vapes have been around for over 15 years, we simply do not have enough evidence to know what the long-term effects of vaping might be. Developing brains should not be exposed to nicotine, which poses a risk of addiction and dependence and potentially a gateway towards tobacco use.
There are many myths and misconceptions about the use of vapes, especially from children and young people. There are also examples of shops selling vapes as ‘nicotine free’ which actually contain high levels of nicotine.
Public Health Wales are working nationally to develop support tools and resources for educational settings. As an interim measure, the Aneurin Bevan Gwent Public Health Team have produced the below guidance document and a resource list to encourage schools, colleges, and parents to have conversations with children and young people about vaping so that they can make informed decisions.
This webpage provides schools in Gwent with information on how to tackle and prevent vaping in young people. Please find the latest statements and research below as we get to grips with the latest evidence on this issue spreading across our schools.