In a stark warning, a head teacher, Glyn Potts from Oldham, highlights the alarming consequences of underage vaping, emphasizing that illegal vaping could potentially be fatal for children. This urgent call comes in the aftermath of a disturbing incident where a 12-year-old pupil collapsed after using a vape containing spice, an illegal synthetic drug. With high levels of psychoactive cannabis oil and THC found in vapes in the area, concerns are escalating, prompting calls for immediate action to address the growing crisis of underage vaping.
The Threat of Synthetic Drugs and THC in Vapes
The collapse of a student who had used a vape containing spice, known for its illegal use in prisons, serves as a chilling reminder of the dangers lurking within these seemingly innocent devices. Spice, a laboratory-made drug, is notorious for inducing "zombie-like paralysis," especially in children. Additionally, vapes have been discovered containing tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a psychoactive compound found in cannabis. The emergence of such illicit substances in vapes poses a serious risk to the health and well-being of young users.
Calls for Urgent Action
Dame Rachel de Souza, Children's Commissioner for England, expresses deep concern over children collapsing from spice contained in vapes. She advocates for the ban of disposable vapes and emphasizes the need for tighter restrictions on advertising and flavors that appeal to children. The head teacher, Glyn Potts, echoes these concerns, fearing that a tragedy may be the catalyst needed to prompt decisive action against underage vaping.
The Current Landscape
Despite laws prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes to those under 18, a recent survey reveals that one in five teenagers in England has experimented with vaping, signaling a significant increase from the previous year. The popularity of vaping among youngsters is exacerbated by the emergence of illegal vapes containing excessive nicotine content and harmful metals like lead and nickel. The discovery of vapes containing cannabinoids such as THC and spice further complicates the landscape.
Incidents and Consequences
In July, a pupil collapsed and was hospitalized after inhaling a vape containing spice, leading to heightened concerns about incidents occurring away from school premises. The head teacher emphasizes the nightmares associated with the possibility of students collapsing in public spaces where they may not be quickly discovered. Incidents involving vapes containing spice or THC in the Oldham area have been on the rise, with one pupil collapsing in September after inhaling a vape containing butane hash oil with a staggering 90% concentration of THC.
The Need for a National Strategy
Greater Manchester Police, Oldham Council, and Trading Standards are collaborating to address the issue locally. However, Glyn Potts insists that a national strategy is urgently required to stem the supply of vapes to youngsters. He emphasizes that without a comprehensive strategy, more young people will be at risk.
Government Response and Future Measures
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) acknowledges the severity of the issue and is consulting on measures to crack down on underage vaping. Proposed actions include banning disposable vapes, restricting flavors, and regulating types of packaging. Health officials stress that while vaping remains an option for adult smokers seeking to quit, it is not a safe choice for children.
In conclusion, the rising incidents of underage vaping, fueled by the presence of dangerous substances in vapes, demand immediate and comprehensive action. The collective efforts of authorities, educators, and policymakers are essential to safeguarding the well-being of young individuals and preventing further tragedies associated with illegal vaping.