Disposable vapes could soon be banned to help protect children from the health implications of vaping and stop young people becomin addicted, new reports suggest.
Ministers are said to be drawing up plans to ban single-use vapes, which are said to be targeted at those under 18, the Telegraph reports.
Sold in bright colours, disposable vapes come in sweet and fruity flavours like pink lemonade, gummy bear and watermelon.
News of the potential ban comes as recent stats reveal that more people aged 16 to 24 in Britain are using e-cigarettes – with a sharp rise among young women – which experts have described as "worrying".
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has also called for an outright ban on disposable vapes.
Read more: Vaping: Government set to ban disposable vapes to protect children's health (NewsLetter 4-min read)
Health implications of vaping
Earlier this year, vapes used by children were found to have high levels of lead, nickel and chromium, BBC News unearthed. E-cigarettes confiscated from pupils at Baxter College in Kidderminster were tested in a lab, revealing shocking results.
Those using them could be inhaling more than twice the daily safe amount of lead and nine times the safe amount of nickel, while some vapes also contained harmful chemicals similar to those found in cigarette smoke.
The Inter Scientific laboratory in Liverpool analysed 18 vapes to find most were illegal and hadn't gone through safety testing before being sold, prompting concern about how widespread the issue is.
How safe is vaping?
Advice surrounding the safety of vaping can seem somewhat conflicted.
"Numerous studies from health groups in the UK have concluded that using an e-cigarette, known as vaping, is better for your health compared to smoking," Dr Diana Gall, from Doctor 4 U previously told Yahoo Life.
“A report by Public Health England, which was compiled by several UK-based academics, found that vaping is 95% safer than smoking. Cancer Research UK has also given its support to people using vaping as a means of fighting against smoking related diseases.”
However, while the Cancer Research UK website acknowledges e-cigarettes are thought to be better than smoking, it adds: "E-cigarettes are not risk-free. We don't yet know their long-term effects, so people who have never smoked shouldn't use them."
The charity points out that there is no good evidence to show that vaping [when using safety-checked vapes] causes cancer. But, it adds, "They can cause side effects such as throat and mouth irritation, headache, cough and feeling sick. These side effects tend to reduce over time with continued use. We don’t know yet what effects they might have in the long term."
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, has said previously: "If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape; marketing vapes to children is utterly unacceptable."
Health risks of vaping
While many experts believe vaping is much less damaging to health compared to smoking, some research has cast an element of doubt over those beliefs.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies highlighted the damaging effect of vaping on blood vessels. Long-term use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping products, can significantly impair their function, increasing the risk for cardiovascular disease, the research suggested
Also, something to be aware of is that ending up using both e-cigarettes and regular cigarettes can cause an even greater risk when done together
Researchers from the University of Athens also previously found that flavourings in e-cigarettes harm the lungs by causing inflammation
Other research has raised questions about the chemicals in e-cigarettes. "Certain studies have found certain chemicals in e-cigarette vapour that are the same than those found in cigarette smoke, but they are [typically] at much lower levels," explains Dr Gall.
NHS figures also show a rise in the number of children admitted to hospital due to vaping.
Forty children and young people were admitted to hospital in England last year due to “vaping-related disorders”, which could include lung damage or worsening asthma symptoms, up from 11 two years earlier, the NHS said.
According to the NHS reports of vapes exploding or catching fire are very rare, but always take care to reduce any risks by:
buying a vape from a reputable retailer, so you can be sure it is covered by UK safety regulations
using the right charger and not leaving a vape charging unattended or overnight
keeping a vape and e-liquid out of the reach of children and pets, as there is a risk of poisoning if nicotine is swallowed
Talking to children about vaping
The NHS has put together some facts to tell young people about vaping:
Vaping is a way for adults to stop smoking – not something for non-smokers, especially children and young people to try.
Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking but that does not mean it is harmless.
In the UK, it is against the law to sell nicotine vaping products to under-18s or for adults to buy them on their behalf.
Vaping exposes users to some toxins, and we do not yet know what the risks might be in the longer term.
Some vapes contain nicotine, which is an addictive substance that can be hard to stop using once you have started.
Nicotine may be more risky for young people than for adults, as evidence suggests the brain in adolescence is more sensitive to its effects.
Some disposable vapes on sale are illegal and do not meet UK quality and safety regulations.
Vaping: Read more
Number of children vaping spikes 50% in a year (Independent, 5-min read)
Australia bans recreational vaping to avoid having ‘nicotine addicts’ (Independent, 2-min read)
Watch: Detection of vaping among children 'may be more difficult' than parents realise
Additional reporting PA.