Live COVID-19 Cases
  • World 595,508,424
    Confirmed: 595,508,424
    Active: 20,034,795
    Recovered: 569,018,271
    Death: 6,455,358
  • USA 94,705,583
    Confirmed: 94,705,583
    Active: 3,716,347
    Recovered: 89,926,838
    Death: 1,062,398
  • India 44,275,687
    Confirmed: 44,275,687
    Active: 124,814
    Recovered: 43,623,804
    Death: 527,069
  • France 34,234,005
    Confirmed: 34,234,005
    Active: 602,921
    Recovered: 33,477,955
    Death: 153,129
  • Brazil 34,178,240
    Confirmed: 34,178,240
    Active: 550,730
    Recovered: 32,945,953
    Death: 681,557
  • Germany 31,535,343
    Confirmed: 31,535,343
    Active: 1,171,945
    Recovered: 30,217,700
    Death: 145,698
  • UK 23,420,826
    Confirmed: 23,420,826
    Active: 211,052
    Recovered: 23,023,687
    Death: 186,087
  • Italy 21,509,424
    Confirmed: 21,509,424
    Active: 867,064
    Recovered: 20,468,258
    Death: 174,102
  • Russia 18,907,231
    Confirmed: 18,907,231
    Active: 372,566
    Recovered: 18,151,487
    Death: 383,178
  • Spain 13,294,139
    Confirmed: 13,294,139
    Active: 276,103
    Recovered: 12,906,369
    Death: 111,667
  • China 235,670
    Confirmed: 235,670
    Active: 5,873
    Recovered: 224,571
    Death: 5,226
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
A genderqueer person sitting in a hospital gown sitting in an exam room

BY Leo Hynett


Are Vapes Helping Us Quit?

Originally designed to help people give up smoking, vaping has become a new habit in itself. With bright colours and sweet flavours, disposable vapes are becoming increasingly appealing to children.

JULY 08  2022


Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), a public health charity that campaigns to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco, has now set its sights on e-cigarettes – more commonly referred to as vapes. Vapes heat flavoured liquid – usually containing nicotine – to produce a vapour that can be inhaled to replicate the feeling of smoking a cigarette.

Vapes were originally intended to be a helpful way to progressively cut down on nicotine, but vaping has now blossomed into a problem of its own.

While vapes were designed as a replacement for traditional cigarettes, their appealing flavours, bright colours, and sweet smells have tempted many people who had never smoked before to pick up the habit.


Young vapers

Simple, brightly coloured disposable vapes are everywhere now. You’ve likely seen them in corner shops around town or even available behind the bar on nights out. Unfortunately, you may also be familiar with seeing them in the hands of children.

ASH’s latest study into the use of vapes among young people in Great Britain found that, in 2022, 15.8% of 11-17 year olds had tried vaping – up from 11.2% in 2021. Deborah Arnott, chief executive of ASH, said:

‘The disposable vapes that have surged in popularity over the last year are brightly coloured, pocket-size products with sweet flavours and sweet names. They are widely available for under a fiver – no wonder they are attractive to children.’

The EU has recently proposed a total ban on flavoured heated tobacco products. While this is only a proposal at this stage, it is unlikely to face much opposition and could be in place as early as mid-2023. This would spell the end of the appealing candy shop flavours that draw so many young people to vapes in the first place.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, commented:

‘With nine out of ten lung cancers caused by tobacco, we want to make smoking as unattractive as possible to protect the health of our citizens and save lives. Stronger actions to reduce tobacco consumption, stricter enforcement and keeping pace with new developments to address the endless flow of new products entering the market — particularly important to protect younger people — is key for this. Prevention will always be better than cure.

It has been suggested that adverts on TikTok and Instagram could be behind the rise in children vaping. ASH’s survey found that over half (55.8%) of all 11-17 year olds were aware of having seen some form of e-cigarette promotion either online or in shops. Of those who reported seeing e-cigarettes promoted online, the most common place was on TikTok (45.4%).

The platforms themselves cannot be solely blamed for this phenomenon. Many of us thought smoking looked cool when we were younger, especially when we regularly saw our favourite actors smoking in films and on television or saw cigarettes in the hands of the adults around us. Seeing TikTokers and Instagrammers vaping is no different for the current generation of children. While the smell and taste of traditional cigarettes may have put many of us off picking up the habit in reality, there is currently no such deterrent when it comes to vapes.

The ASH survey also found a statistically significant difference in how likely people were to pick up vapes based on the branding of their packaging. Perhaps a move to bring vape packaging in line with cigarette and tobacco packets could help reduce their visual appeal.


A path to quitting or just a new habit?

Research suggests that vaping is better than nicotine replacement therapy for stopping smoking as it is a way to retain the physical habit while slowly decreasing nicotine content over time. However, ‘incorrect perceptions of its relative risks compared to smoking may be discouraging smokers from using vaping to quit.’ Many smokers don’t realise it, but an expert review for the Government by Public Health England concluded in 2015 that e-cigarettes present a fraction of the risk of smoking. Cigarettes are perhaps still favoured by some because they carry a familiar level of risk, whereas the long-term effects of vapes are comparatively uncertain.

In many ways, vapes are working: approximately 1.5 million adults in the UK have switched to e-cigarettes and given up cigarette smoking. However, change is slow and current trends suggest it will take until 2050 for Great Britain to be entirely smoke-free. To speed up the transition to a smoke-free GB, it has been suggested that we could follow New Zealand’s lead and increase the smoking age yearly so that today’s children will never be old enough to purchase cigarettes.

Smoking costs the NHS £2.4 billion each year, so eradicating smoking is high on the UK government’s agenda. Promoting vaping is a core part of the plan to achieve this, but making vaping too appealing risks attracting non-smokers. There is a balance to be struck between pitching vapes as a safer alternative to traditional cigarettes and remaining clear on the risks of picking up the habit to begin with.

Recommended for you

BAME Nurses Speak Out on Pandemic Racism

A new report and documentary expose the realities of racism experienced by BAME nurses with the hopes of building a more compassionate NHS.