Published: 20 September 2023
Public Health Wales has produced an information and guidance resource on vaping for secondary-aged learners in Wales. The document provides data and evidence-based information for schools including how they can respond to and help address vaping within their setting through policy, practices, and curriculum content.
Public Health Wales developed the guidance following a request from Welsh Government. Concern has been growing around this issue in recent years. Figures from the School Health Research Network Student Health and Wellbeing Survey show that 20% of young people from Year 7 to Year 11 say they’ve tried vaping, with 5% of secondary school pupils in Wales vaping at least once a week. A recent Public Health Wales snapshot survey of pupils in year 7 and 10 from a small sample of Welsh secondary schools found the proportion of year 10 pupils using vapes every day is around nine per cent. Among these daily vapers around two thirds showed signs of moderate or high dependency to nicotine using a validated measure.
Public Health Wales convened an Incident Response Group (IRG) earlier this year following increasing reports of vaping among pupils from those working with children and young people in Wales. The IRG intends to develop understanding of the issue of vaping among young people, identify the causes, and establish recommendations to mitigate the potential harms.
Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement at Public Health Wales, said: “Our work with the multi-agency Incident Response Group has highlighted significant new challenges that our schools and colleges are experiencing when responding to vaping among young people in Wales. We hope this comprehensive guidance will provide the first step in supporting education staff in addressing this growing issue.”
The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: "No one under 18 should be vaping, however schools are telling us that it is a real issue whether it's because of peer pressure, colourful marketing targeted at children or a lack of understanding of the potential health risks. I hope this new guidance will help pupils understand the impact of vaping so they can make the right decisions.
"Our new curriculum gives teachers the flexibility to adapt their lessons to suit issues and challenges facing their pupils. This should include learning about the health and well-being impacts of vaping. All secondary schools are now teaching this curriculum to years 7 and 8, and this resource will support all secondary school pupils."
The Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: “Vapes have no place in the hands of children and young people and supporting people to have a smoke-free childhood is a priority.
“Giving our young people the tools they need to stay healthy is an important way we can help them to improve their health and wellbeing. This guidance will help schools to highlight the health risks of vaping and support young people who may be addicted and wish to stop.”