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Vaping, Snus and Underage Smoking

Vaping, Snus and Underage Smoking – How To Protect Your Child

David Paton, Head, writes:

With recent data from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) showing a significant increase in the proportion of 11 to 17 year olds who say they have tried vaping, and the calls for bans on cheaper single-use vapes growing, I was interested to read about another dangerous trend which looks set to sweep through this country’s schools.  Tobacco free snus is a form of nicotine pouch which is held against the inner lip and gum to satisfy a nicotine craving.  Providing they do not contain tobacco they are legal to purchase in UK and nationwide sales have risen dramatically.

The tobacco-free variety can be easily confused with the tobacco version, which is restricted, under existing legislation.  Your child might be using these pouches without your knowledge and as they are easily hidden and do not give off a vapour or smoke trail and are almost imperceptible.

I welcome the news this week that Ministers are to ban the sale of sinus nicotine patches to children.  Having spoken with other schools – independent and state – I know that Heads are concerned by their rise in popularity.

So what can we do about it and how can we protect our children? 

  1. Firstly, we need to be aware of the problem.  Teenagers know that vaping happens, they know their peers vape and they know they shouldn’t do it.  They need to be reminded of the rules but also encouraged to talk about it openly and honestly at home with their parents.  Like many of life’s taboos, shining a light on it usually has a sterilising effect and simply discussing it around the dinner table can work wonders.

  2. Secondly, parents can gently check for smoking, vaping and snus related paraphernalia in their child’s room.  Without breaking any confidences, I would encourage you to be aware and stay interested in what they are doing.  Teens will want privacy, and that should be respected, but it does not mean a complete withdrawal of parenting duties.  A difficult line to tread, I know.

  3. Finally, please support your child’s school and reinforce their rules at home.  It could be that school’s deal with issues in this area firmly, perhaps with a day or two at home, to think about their actions.  These sanctions are meant to act as a warning shot before children start experimenting with other products which might be more dangerous.

As a parent of children this age myself, I know how hard parenting teenagers can be but it is usually the point in their lives when they need us most.

E-cigarettes: regulations for consumer products - GOV.UK (

The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (

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