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Health / New vaping awareness campaign welcomed locally

Photo: Dave Donaldson

NEWS of a new campaign informing parents, carers and school pupils in Scotland of the dangers of vaping has been welcomed locally.

It comes as a new tobacco and vaping framework is published, setting out actions which will be taken to create a “tobacco-free” generation by 2034.

The ‘Take Hold’ marketing campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of the harms and risks of nicotine addiction associated with vaping.

Schools across Scotland will be provided with digital guidance packs and resources for posters along with radio and outdoor advertising.

Its key message is that vapes may quickly become harmfully addictive for children and young people, affecting their concentration, mental health and mood.

Earlier this year Shetland councillors backed a campaign to ban single-use vapes, with a particular emphasis over environmental and health concerns.

Green councillor Alex Armitage, who is also a paediatrician, said at the time he was “really concerned” by the rise in popularity of vaping and called for greater regulations such as plain packaging.

He said vapes were “highly effective” at getting the addictive nicotine into the brain.

The move from councillors followed a campaign from the Eco Youth club in Scalloway, which wrote to all 23 of Shetland’s elected members on the issue.

One of the club’s youth workers, Laura Hughes, said the new marketing campaign was a positive move.

She said she would “welcome anything that continues to raise awareness about the harmful effects to health and the environment impact caused by vaping, and in particular, disposable or single-use vapes”.

Meanwhile NHS Shetland’s health improvement team has also welcomed the government’s plans to tackle youth vaping.

The local ‘Quit You Way’ service, a national stop smoking service which is led locally by the team, has already been working alongside colleagues in Shetland Island Council’s schools and youth services as well as the NHS school nursing team.

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The health improvement team has developed local training focused on raising awareness among those working in youth and school settings on vaping and its dangers.

Donna MacDonald, a health improvement practitioner who has been taking the lead on the vaping training and development, said: “We know that e-cigarettes are a useful tool for those wishing to stop smoking. They are not recommended for children or non-smokers, and are considered a health harming product when used by these groups.

“This framework supports the work we are already undertaking in Shetland.

“It is really important that we raise awareness and provide support to our schools and young people to best understand the dangers of vaping, and where to find support if they need it.”

The health improvement team is also working on gathering useful resources, links and training concerning vaping which will be launched on the Healthy Shetland website in the coming months, and will include links to the ‘Take Hold’ resources.

NHS Inform has also added a new information page on vaping which can be found here.

MacDonald added: “We welcome the latest developments from the Scottish Government on smoking and vaping and we are happy to work with other agencies locally to support the campaign.”

Scotland’s public health minister Jenni Minto said: “E-cigarettes are one of a range of tools for adult smokers to quit smoking, but should never be used by young people or adult non-smokers.

“We must take action to prevent young people using vapes and becoming addicted which will damage their health, and that’s why we’re launching a marketing campaign. It is much easier to never start than it is to give up.”

The Scottish Government said it will continue to work “constructively with stakeholders and retailers” and is still considering next steps on its consultation on tightening the advertising and promotion of vapes.

Any measures taken forward will be in addition to those proposed under the UK-wide consultation on creating a smoke-free generation, which the Scottish Government is part of, and includes raising the age limit.

In addition, the UK-wide consultation contains proposals on the prohibition of disposable vape sales and other measures, which aligns with the Scottish Government’s commitment to tackle the environmental impact of single-use vapes.

Earlier this year the local trading standards team said it had undertaken some test purchases of vapes by people slightly older than the minimum wage.

It appeared that some retailers failed to follow the ‘Challenge 25’ guidance in place.

In Scotland it is illegal to sell vapes or e-cigarettes to anyone under 18, or to buy them for someone who is under 18.

Anyone looking for support to stop smoking or would like to speak to someone about vaping can contact the local Quit Your Way service online here, the national services here. People can also contact their local pharmacy for Quit Your Way support.

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