Schools have noticed a significant increase in children vaping on school premises.
This has been concern among schools and parents for some time around the ease with which children are able to acquire vapes. In response to this, the government launched a consultation on 11 April 2023, requesting a call for evidence, to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children using and accessing vape products while at the same time ensuring that these products are available to adults who may use them as an aid to quit smoking. The consultation closed on 6 June and it focused on the following:
- Building regulatory compliance so that only adult smokers are sold legally compliant vape products, whilst ensuring they are still readily available to help adults quit smoking
- The appeal of vape products
- The marketing and promotion of vaping, including on social media
- The role of social media and how it impacts the uptake of vaping
- Educational approaches to prevent children from starting vaping
- How vapes impact the environment, and in particular, disposable products
- Understanding the vape market
The consultation has been welcomed by many schools, given the recent increase in pupils vaping and the health risks associated with it. In advance of its response to the consultation, the government has already announced measures (on 30 May) to crack down on rogue firms, targeting children with free samples.
Although selling vapes to under 18s is illegal, a loophole allows children to receive free samples of vapes. The government has announced that this loophole will be closed and there will also be a review into banning the vaping industry selling ‘nicotine-free’ vapes to under 18s.
There is also an increase in illegal vapes, with some being designed to look like highlighter pens and other colourful products. Further measures may be announced to combat this practice.
The health risks of vaping will now be included in Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) lessons, further broadening the range of topics to be covered. Support in this area is available from the PSHE Association, including a year 9 lesson pack. Currently, raising awareness of the risks is the best approach for schools to take as well as being alive to the risk of children bringing into school vapes that are made to look like innocuous items such as pens.
How Moore Barlow can help
We will be pleased to support schools with any practical issues as well reviewing and updating rules and policies that deal with banned items/searches.
Our independents schools team have the legal expertise and experience to support independent schools of all sizes and profiles including groups of schools, on a wide range of issues.