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Thousands of child vapers now dependent on untested products – new survey

15 May 2024 4 minute read
Disposable vapes

A new survey has revealed that thousands of child vapers are now dependent on untested products.

ASH Wales’ new youth survey, the largest of its kind in the UK, found that over half (55%) of all children who vape are using products that are highly likely to be illegal.

The survey of 12,524 secondary school children across Wales shows 9 out 10 of
teenage vapers are using highly addictive nicotine products with nearly half (45%) of all
children who vape saying they can’t go the whole school day without vaping.

More than 4 out of 10 of all students year 7 to 11 say vapes are easy to get hold
and over half of pupils said vaping was common among their year group.

The survey comes as a motion calling on the Welsh Government to implement a Tobacco and Nicotine Retail Register for Wales is debated in the Senedd (15 May).

The law paving the way for a retail register was passed in the Public Health Wales Act of 2017 but never implemented.


The register would require anyone in Wales wishing to sell vaping or tobacco products to pay a fee and submit their details.

ASH Wales Chief Executive, Suzanne Cass, said: “Wales needs urgent action to crackdown on illegal traders, support community action and educate our young people.

“It is totally unacceptable that we have so many untested, highly addictive, illegal products being sold to so many children.

“Not only does this survey shed light on scale of the illegal market but it also reveals the
substantial number of young vapers who are struggling with nicotine dependency.

“When we look to solutions to curb youth vaping, we need ensure we have the support in place to help young people who may be addicted to nicotine.”


More than a third (37%) of current youth vapers also reported being current smokers and 26% who currently vape said that they would like to quit.

The survey was conducted between 20th September to December 20th , 2023, and explored perceptions, exposure, usage, product acquisition, influences and feelings around dependency and withdrawal.

Key stats

  • Nearly a quarter (24%) of all children year 7 to 11 reported to have ever vaped,
    rising to 44% of year 12 and 13s.
  • 7% of children year 7 to 11 were current vapers, rising to 13% of year 12 and 13
  • 3% of children year 7 to 11 reported as being current smokers.
  • 37% of current vapers year 7 to 11 also report being current smokers.
  • 22% of current vapers year 7 to 11 reported to be never smokers.
  • Current vaping was significantly higher among females than males across all year groups rising to 17% of females in year 13 compared to 10% of males.
  • Vaping was disproportionately viewed as common with over half of pupils citing vaping as common (57%).
  • Students who currently vape were twice as likely to live with a smoker or a vaper than students who had never vaped (66% vs 32%).
  • The vast majority of current vapers use a vape that contains nicotine (92%).
  • Nearly a half (45%) of all current vapers say they cannot go the whole school day without vaping.
  • More than a quarter (26%) of all current vapers said they would like to stop vaping.
  • More than half of all students who currently vape reported to be using vapes which are highly likely to be illegal and contain over 600 puffs (55%).
  • Ease of access to products increases through the year groups with the majority (62%) of 15/16-year-olds reporting it easy or very easy to get hold of a vape.
  • Nearly half (47%) of all current vapers report having received their first vape from a friend.
  • Informal sources (friends, family and someone they know) account for 36% of all reported purchases of vapes by current vapers, with retailers accounting for 26% of reported purchases.

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Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
12 days ago

If this is not an example of a society engineered as a free for all for those who would exploit the people to their heart’s content…a future society that so horrified Max all those years ago in the Vaults in 1979…

Last edited 12 days ago by Mab Meirion
12 days ago

Tobacco lobby have the UK government in its back pocket. Future sales looking good.

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