Number Of Teens Trying Vaping For First Or Second Time Rises By 50% In A Year

Vaping has been on the rise among teenagers for years as they shy away from cigarettes (Picture: AP)

The number of youngsters who have tried vaping for the first or second time has increased by 50% in the last year, shocking new figures show.

Health experts and consumer officials have long warned that vapes are being marketed with children in mind with their fruity flavours and colourful designs.

But more and more young people aged between 11 and 17 are puffing on vapes in Britain today, from 7.7% last year to 11.6% this year, according to a YouGov poll released today.

When asked if they have vaped once or twice, more than one in 10 teens (11.6%) said they have – more than double the amount that said the same in 2014 (5.4%).

Corner shops are the go-to place for young people to grab a vape, they told the pollster, adding that they prefer disposable vapes when it comes to e-cigarettes.

Trading Standards teams in England and Wales seized hundreds of vapes flogged to under-18s in 2021, often from specialist vaping stores and small convenience shops.

Vaping is often seen as a safe or safer alternative to smoking, though health experts still aren’t so sure (Picture: Getty Images)

Vaping – the heating of nicotine to create an inhaled aerosol – has exploded in recent years, being an alternative to ashy cigarettes.

Why adolescent e-cigarette users are drawn to vapes comes down to old-fashioned peer pressure and perceived cool factor, researchers say.

The YouGov poll of 2,656 youngsters showed that youths are putting out their cigarettes and reaching out for vapes instead.

The number of young smokers dropped from 2022 to this year, from 4.8% to 3.6%. In that same period, the number of young vapers rose from 6.9% to 7.6%.

Four in 10 young people said they started vaping as they wanted to give it a try, while just shy of two in 10 said they wanted to fit in.

Of those surveyed for the public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) 14% said they began vaping as they liked the flavours such as fruit, desserts and sweets.

The poll showed that peer pressure is a big reason why youngsters have tried vaping out (Picture: AP)

Three-quarters (73%) of teens said someone gave them their first vape (two-thirds from a friend) and nearly the same (72%) said they buy their own vapes.

Teenagers tended to buy their vapes from corner shops (26%), petrol stations (9.4%) or online (7.6%).

TikTok content promoting vapes has made the e-cigarettes popular with Gen-Zs, researchers say, and today’s survey found nearly half of the young vape users saying they saw them on the platform.

YouTube (29%), Instagram (28%) and Snapchat (24%) followed.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, said: ‘We need to stem the tide of child vape experimentation and the Government’s investment in a crackdown on illegal underage sales of vapes is a vital first step.

‘But enforcement on its own won’t do the trick without tougher regulation to address the child-friendly promotion of these cheap and attractive products.

‘The Ash youth survey demonstrates the rapid growth of in-store promotion of vapes, using brightly coloured pack displays, reminiscent of cigarette displays from yesteryear.

‘The evidence is clear, government needs to take strong action to prevent the marketing of vapes to children.’

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