New national vaping guidance for schools released by Action on Smoking and Health
In response to requests for help, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has released new national guidance for schools, to support staff in developing their policies around vaping, which is available online.
The guidance has been developed with advice from teachers with expertise in safeguarding and health education, and is designed to support the implementation of evidence-based school policies.
It comes as latest data shows the proportion of children vaping is rising, up from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022, alongside the growing popularity of disposable vapes. The number of children who admit to ever trying vaping has risen from 14% in 2020 to 16% in 2022. However, the vast majority of under 18s who have never smoked, have also never vaped, and only 1.9% have vaped more frequently than once or twice.
The new guidance contains valuable information to support schools as they navigate changing attitudes and behaviours. The headline message is that vaping is not for children. And that while it can help people quit smoking, if you don’t smoke don’t vape. However, the guidance also points out that most children who try vaping, have also tried smoking, and vaping is far less harmful than smoking.
As well as curriculum headlines, the briefing includes facts on smoking and vaping, questions to inform wider school policies and ethos, and links to helpful resources.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said:
“The new vaping guidance for schools recognises growing concerns about children vaping. It is designed as a guide to empower schools with the information they need to develop their policies.
“We understand that it can be difficult for schools to know what to do about vaping, particularly when online promotion on social media sites like TikTok, is fuelling its use.
“A whole school approach is needed to address both smoking and vaping, making it part of the curriculum, highlighting the risks, and arming children with the facts so that they can make informed choices. It’s important to remember that the harms to health are significantly greater from smoking.”
The new guidance has been welcomed by education leads, including Diane Buckle, Assistant Director of Education (ADoE) with North Tyneside Council. She said:
“North Tyneside Council is keen to do all we can to help our schools address the growing use of vapes by their pupils. It’s very reassuring to know that the ASH guidance has been developed with help from teachers expert in health education and safeguarding, as well as academics expert in the evidence on vaping. It is very timely and just what’s needed. We will be circulating this guidance to all our schools and encouraging them to use it to ensure that they address youth vaping appropriately.”
The new guidance is for designated safeguarding leads, PSHE leads and others developing school policies on vaping.
The guidance sits alongside a more extensive ASH youth vaping briefing for local authorities, schools and parents which is also available online and includes:
- national data on youth attitudes and behaviour
- an explanation of the laws on vapinghow to report any breaches
- a myth-buster.
Notes to the Editor
Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: www.ash.org.uk/about-ash . ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.
See also ASH factsheet on the use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain in 2022. Available here.