Vaping: 5% of secondary school pupils in Wales vape at least once a week, figures show

teenager vaping
One in five young people from year 7 to year 11 have tried vaping according to figures from the School Health Research Network

With a big rise in the number of children vaping in schools across Wales, new guidance has been issued to help headteachers tackle the issue.

Public Health Wales hopes it will assist in helping start conversations around the potential health impacts of such devices.

One in five young people from year 7 to year 11 have tried vaping according to figures from the School Health Research Network. And 5% of secondary pupils in Wales vape at least once a week.

Those working with children and young people have reported that vape use has become a growing issue over the last two years leading to them having to monitor specific areas of their site such as toilets. There has also been an increase in school exclusions relating to vaping.

This led to an Incident Response Group (IRG) being convened by Public Health Wales to provide information and guidance on vaping for schools following a request from Welsh Government.

Health and wellbeing is a mandatory part of the new Curriculum for Wales and schools are being encouraged to introduce learning about vaping and vaping devices.

The Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles said: "No one under 18 should be vaping. Schools are telling us this 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."

Disposable vapes are popular with children due to the different flavours available and this concerns Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, Lynne Neagle who says they have 'no place in the hands of children and young people.' She said: "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.”

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 education settings 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.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…