An Oldham headteacher has spoken out in support of the new ban on vaping after one of his pupils collapsed at the school gates. Glyn Potts from Newham RC College said the devices had become an ‘accessory to adolescents’ that posed a ‘huge risk’ to their health.
The headteacher recounted an incident where a twelve-year-old pupil had stolen the vape off his elder brother’s bedside table – with disastrous consequences.
Mr Potts said: “When he showed it to his friends on the bus on the way to school, they all encouraged him to take a big inhalation, which he did just before the bus arrived on school grounds.
“As he got off the bus, he collapsed. We had to rush him to A&E.”
The young boy, who has since recovered, is just one of thousands of kids experimenting with vapes. Mr Potts estimated that around 10pc of his approximately 1,500 pupils had tried vaping.
And nationally, around one in five children aged between 11 and 17 have given vaping a go, with almost 8pc developing vaping habits, according to Action on Smoking and Health.
Mr Potts said: “Whilst we are fairly convinced that on this occasion it was just the sheer volume of nicotine that was in the vape – which is often 12 times higher than that of a cigarette – we do know that disposable vapes are being repurposed to be filled with cannabis derivatives and spice. It presents a huge risk to young people.”
The government is planning to introduce a ban on the sale of disposable vapes in England, Scotland and Wales. The bill is due to pass through parliament later this year and with only a handful of Conservative MPs objecting to the proposal, it looks likely to have an easy passage.
Mr Potts said: “Vapes have become an accessory to adolescents rather than a smoking cessation tool. That’s why I welcomed the ban from the government.
“You can buy disposable vapes in more shops than you can buy stamps – that’s not right.”
He noted that the ban was just a ‘first step’, as he knew many young people acquired vapes illegally on black markets online and on the streets. These come with the additional risk of being laced with other substances.
Last year, four vapes confiscated in the Oldham area were found to contain spice or THC.
Mr Potts said: “We’ve got to keep young people safe. But if they’re arriving with these kinds of devices, where we don’t know what’s in them or what effects they have, it makes the job incredibly difficult.”