Youth vaping

Key information about vaping and young people

Vaping and health

Vaping is not recommended for young people because it's not risk-free and vapes are not completely harmless. Short-term effects can include coughing, headaches, dizziness and sore throats, and the long-term effects of vaping on the respiratory system are not yet known. The nicotine in vapes makes them highly addictive and makes stopping vaping difficult without support.

Vapes should only be used as a tobacco stop smoking tool for adults as there's evidence of reduced harm in the short and medium term compared to tobacco smoking.

Vaping and the law       

Officially licensed vaping products are closely regulated through legislation for safety, nicotine strength and ingredients to ensure they meet appropriate UK standards.  

Vapes and vaping products containing nicotine are age restricted. It's illegal to sell them to young people under 18 years of age. It's also illegal for an adult to buy them on behalf of someone under 18 years of age.

The Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) regulate vaping products which are sold on the UK market to ensure they are compliant with agreed safety and quality standards. However, it remains the case that unregulated vapes continue to be bought, sold, and used in the UK. Unregulated vapes cause concern relating to product safety, risk of fire from defective batteries, and increased physical health risk as a result of other harmful chemicals.  

Trading Standards monitors local shop and online sales of vapes and where appropriate takes action in respect of fake, unsafe and non-compliant vaping products, and where nicotine vapes are sold to under 18-year-olds or purchased by adults on behalf of under 18-year-olds (proxy purchases). Concerns regarding illegal vapes and retailers/online sellers who are selling vapes to under 18-year-olds or where proxy purchases are suspected can be reported in confidence to our Trading Standards Team by contacting the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or by using the online form. More details can be found on the Citizens Advice website.

Reducing the appeal and availability of nicotine products to children is important. There's growing concern about the rising number of children and young people using vapes, leading to a call nationally for a ban on disposable vapes and/or stricter regulation of both nicotine and non-nicotine vapes and other consumer containing nicotine products such as nicotine pouches. The call for a ban on disposable vapes is currently not universally supported, however we consider this is warranted on both health and environmental grounds to reduce the ease of supply of disposable vapes to children and young people. 

Vaping and safety

In the unlikely event of an adverse reaction associated with vaping, this should be reported to the MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) providing as much information as possible on the online form. 

For concerns about other substances within vapes that might cause harm, contact Shropshire - With You team.

Vaping and exploitation   

Exploitation is when somebody grooms, coerces, or forces another person to do something that you don’t want to do for their own gain. Grooming refers to when people form relationships with young people in order to use them for financial gain or other benefits. Exploitation can take different forms including criminal exploitation. 

Vaping is used in child exploitation, with perpetrators targeting young people to sell vapes as a way of starting the exploitation grooming process. Vapes are popular and easy to sell and can therefore be one of the tools used by criminals to exploit young people into criminal activity, similar to methods used with tobacco, alcohol and drugs. Young people may find it difficult to break away from this, leaving them vulnerable to other types of exploitation.

Signs of exploitation can include receiving gifts and rewards such as drugs, alcohol, food, and clothing, unexplained money, increased secretiveness particularly around phone use, use of drugs or alcohol, going missing, a decline in mental health or possession of a weapon.  

Shropshire Child Exploitation Directory includes a list of support services available to young people and their families concerned about exploitation and guidance for professionals in Shropshire. 

If you have concerns about potential exploitation and grooming of young people in Shropshire, contact COMPASS by telephoning 0345 678 9021 (or call 0345 678 9040 out of hours) or emailing Children's Social Care and Health team.

If someone is at risk or immediate harm, call 999. To report anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit

Vaping and the environment

Disposable single-use vapes are thrown away and cause harm to the environment. Many are hard to recycle and end up in landfill sites where they break down and release dangerous chemicals.

Youth Vaping Resource Toolkit    

In response to growing concern around vaping among children and young people, a youth vaping Resource Toolkit has been developed for use by those caring for and working with children and young people.

The Toolkit includes helpful resources to support parents, carers and those working with children and young people to have conversations and deliver education around youth vaping. They're also designed to increase awareness of the risks of vaping for children and young people and help them to make informed decisions.  

The Toolkit includes:

The overall message to children and young people is vaping is not for children. Whilst it can help adults to quit smoking it isn’t risk-free. If you don’t smoke don’t vape!