By Roland Sebestyen, Local Democracy Reporter
Vaping kids and young people are of concern across the country and while the situation is not worse or better in Sheffield, a proposed government ban could backfire in the long run, the city’s health boss claimed.
The government’s plan to create a “smokefree generation” and potentially ban disposable vapes in the UK was welcomed by many, including campaigners, doctors and parents across the country.
Greg Fell, the director of public health in Sheffield, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that smoking was still the thing that causes the real harm to health.
He said Sheffield was “doing pretty well” on smoking compared with other larger cities but the problems are the same.
He said: “The issue on disposables is that it’s pretty obvious that they are not sustainable. I heard they were an ‘environmental disaster’ – the clue is in the title, they are (disposable vapes) not designed to be recycled.”
Mr Fell added that other forms of vapes (the non-disposable vapes) are not “terribly cool and sexy” for kids and it’s clear that tobacco companies are marketing vapes to kids “really aggressively”.
He said: “Who needs bubblegum flavour vape? There is something in the flavours and the descriptions designed to appeal to children and young people.”
Mr Fell said a government ban on disposable vapes may “not make it go away” and create an illegal and illicit market instead.
He said: “If the government chose to go down the ban route, I don’t know whether they will or not, it may not solve the problem. It may turn it to be an illegal problem.
“It may not. I don’t know that. I genuinely don’t know.”
He added a possible solution may be to restrict flavours and descriptions – like what they did to tobacco when introduced plain packs and put it behind the counter.
He said pricing was also problematic as disposable vapes were “pretty cheap”, hence people buy them. A duty on disposable vapes may be one solution as children were “more price sensitive”.
He urged non-smokers not to start vaping and added “we’ve kind of held that off” as they hadn’t seen the big uptake in children and young people vaping in this country “until very recently”.
He said: “We are now starting to lose that battle, which is of great regret.”
One possible reason for that could be the tobacco industry’s aggressive campaign as they see a big opportunity in marketing vapes to kids.
Mr Fell said Sheffield was doing “pretty well” on smoking – compared with comparator cities.
However, Sheffield has also seen a large number of children and young people starting to vape over the last couple of years.
“There’s a tripling of children and young people vaping (across the country) in recent years”, he said.
Mr Fell gave credit to the government when said there was an additional resource to local authorities and Sheffield was investing a good chunk of that into stop smoking services.
(Local Democracy Reporting Service)