UK

Children ‘so addicted to vapes they can’t last lesson without one’ – as mother of teenager who died issues warning

When vape sensors were fitted in the toilets at St Joseph’s High School in Horwich in Bolton, headteacher Tony McCabe never expected what they were about to reveal.

“On the very first day, they went off 112 times.”

In a school of 1,000 pupils, he said it was “beyond anything I imagined”.

Those caught included pupils as young as 11.

The school has been proactive in trying to educate its students and their parents about the risks of vaping and the extent of the problem.

“Some of our young people are so addicted to vapes that they can’t last a lesson – so an hour of time – without the need to pop out and use a vape,” said Mr McCabe.

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How does vaping affect long-term health?

The government is to carry out a consultation on restricting the flavours, descriptions, display and packaging of vapes so that they are no longer targeted at children. It will also look at restrictions on the sale of disposable vapes.

“I see young people as victims of the vape crisis because I think families and society has sleepwalked into this new habit without realising the impact,” said Mr McCabe.

It is estimated that five million disposable vapes are discarded every week in the UK.

That number has quadrupled in a year and doesn’t include devices recycled properly.

Increasing numbers of unregulated disposable vapes, some laced with traces of cannabis, have been seized in recent months and there are fears the growing black market will fill the void created by restrictions.

Vape pens. File pic
Image:
Vape pens

Read more:
New study launched into long-term impact of vaping
Quarter of pupils are vaping, headteacher tells MPs

“If you’re making it illegal, it’s just going to open darker routes into obtaining the vapes,” said student Venice Sison.

She is one of a number of students at St Ambrose Barlow RC High School in Swinton in Greater Manchester who told us that vaping is now ubiquitous among teenagers.

“They’re going to get them, probably getting an adult to get it, they’re going to find ways around it if they’re that addicted that they can’t give it up,” said Kishan Ramnaught.

Rosey Christoffersen died after both her lungs collapsed
Image:
Rosey Christoffersen

Rachel Howe could not have a clearer message for those young people who do vape.

Her daughter Rosey Christoffersen died three days before her 19th birthday. Her lungs collapsed, and doctors suspect that chemicals in e-cigarettes could have been to blame.

“She started vaping in the August, and she was dead in the February,” she said.

Rachel Howe and Rosey Christoffersen
Image:
Rachel Howe with daughter Rosey

Ms Howe welcomes government action but wants it to go further.

“It will help, but I think there needs to be research.

“I think they’re under the impression that it is safe, they’re under the impression that it’s better than smoking, and it’s not.

“There’s nothing on paper to tell you that it is better for you than smoking.”

Her message to young vapers is simple: “Don’t do it.”

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