Vaping: A New Epidemic

In recent years, vaping has surged in popularity, particularly amongst youth and adults alike. Once believed to be a less harmful alternative to smoking, vaping has now evolved into an epidemic, bringing to the forefront of society a number of questions associated with the risks of vaping and the need for comprehensive addiction support.

Vaping flavoured e-cigarettes and producing vapour clouds has an allure for many youth, but the allure of understanding the potential dangers and side-effects is ever growing alongside this epidemic.

New Leaf dive into the emerging epidemic of vaping, shedding light on the risks associated with vaping and looking into the addiction support already available. Let New Leaf Recovery help you on the journey to healthier, addiction free lifestyle.

Vaping epidemic - smoke in the air

The Origin of Vapes

Vapes are another form of e-cigarette, containing the addiction substance known to many smokers, nicotine. Originally designed to be a less harmful method of smoking, this technology was a way of heating a liquid solution containing nicotine, therefore creating the e-cigarettes we know of today.

From humble beginning to an epidemic, vaping technology has evolved significantly in recent years, now available to youth and adults alike, offering a vast array of flavours and devices. Technology thought to help reduce the amount of nicotine that regular smokers consumed, vaping has taken off in a way no-one could have predicted, now becoming its own addictive substance to smokers and non-smokers alike.

UK Statistics on Vaping in 2023

According to the UK Government website, the number of children now vaping has tripled in the last three years, estimating that 20.5% of children between the ages of 11 and 17 having tried vaping.

In 2021, NHS Digital compiled a survey with results showing that 9% of 11 to 15 year olds were vaping. By 2023, 69% of young children are reported to be using disposable vapes; this is a significant increase from 2021 statistics.

The Risks of Vaping

There are a number of significant risks to vaping that many people are now coming to learn and understand.

Vapes contain nicotine, a highly addictive substance that can have an impact on the adolescent brain development. This hindered development can continue in the 20s too. Alongside nicotine, vapes contain other harmful substances.

Originally designed for smokers, this is now creating a reversed effect, leading to more vapers becoming more likely to smoke later in life as opposed to reducing the number of smokers.

Much like smoking, vaping can come with withdrawal symptoms including being restless, irritable, feeling anxious or depressed, having issues concentrating or sleeping and finding yourself craving the next nicotine fix. Not only does this addiction have physical effects, but it can also lead to mental health issues in the long term as well.

The Impact of Vaping on Real Lives

Vaping is not just rapidly becoming an epidemic throughout the UK, but across the world. Many people are starting to understand the side effects and dangerous risks associated with vaping due to the devasting consequences in their own lives.

In September 2023, The Mirror reported that due to a vaping addiction, Jodie Hudson had found herself in the hospital with vaping-related pneumonia and was warned she could die. The 26-year-old had swapped her cigarettes for vaping two years prior to her hospital admittance, thinking this was a less harmful alternative to smoking; however, the addiction to vaping had caused her to vape wherever and whenever as opposed to using it as a quitting technique. During her hospital stay, the doctors warned of the impact vaping was having on Jodie’s lungs, helping her to understand that not quitting could lead to her losing her life.

When talking about vaping, it was said that Jodie found vaping more addictive than smoking. Following her hospital admission, Jodie has stated she wouldn’t smoke or vape again due to the dangers.

In Australia, the tragedy of youth addiction stories surrounding vaping is growing. One family noted that their son began vaping at the age of 12. Although the boy's father treated those with tobacco addictions, his son’s addiction led him to feed the addiction with cigarettes to try and remove the addiction to vaping.

Sadly, the addiction to nicotine had a direct impact on the families’ relationships, children’s behaviour and young people’s health.

What is the UK Government Looking To Do?

In September 2023, the UK Government began looking into banning disposable vapes as a step towards stopping the addiction of vaping in young children.

On October 12th 2023, a public consultation was launched by the Government, open to anyone of all ages throughout the UK. This public consultation is designed to get public feedback on the Governments plans to crack down on youth vaping.

The intentions of the UK Government are to create a smokefree generation. The Prime Minister is looking to but a ban on children of 14 being able to legally purchase cigarettes of any kind. As the biggest preventable killer in the UK, this is a big task to begin tackling.

The proposal also includes:

  • Looking to restrict the flavours and descriptions of vapes so that they are no longer targeted towards children.
  • Regulating the point of sale in retail outlets to move vapes out of sight of children.
  • Considerations for restricting the sale of disposable vapes which is clearly linked to the epidemic.

There are many considerations within the public consultation, all targeting the reduction of vaping throughout the UK.

What Support is Available for Vaping?

Throughout the UK, the NHS is the biggest provider of addiction support for Vaping and Smoking addiction, providing a vast range of services, digital tools, practical tips and motivational messages for those looking to quit.

Alternatively, you can contact your local GP for support and advice on vaping addictions or contact national organisations such as Stop Smoking Services today.