Agenda item

Vaping in Kent - with a focus on underage use


Dr Connie Wou was in attendance for this item. 


  1. The Chair introduced the update and gave some remarks on vaping that noted its positive uses but expressed concern that young people saw them as a fashion item due to their price, looks and availability. 


  1. Dr Ghosh gave an overview. It was noted that there had been an industry-wide move amongst tobacco companies from investing in cigarette products to vapes due to a change in social norms. Dr Ghosh said that vapes required both a legislative and a local approach to prevent adverse effects of vapes on public health. 


  1. Dr Connie Wou said that vapes were a very effective treatment for smoking but were not without risk. It was noted that there was some evidence of a rise in vape use amongst younger people and some of the health and environmental risks associated with vaping were detailed. It was noted that Kent, other local authorities and the Local Government Association had all recommended that action be taken on disposable vapes and that the Public Health team were acting proactively with partners and trading standards to tackle this issue. 


  1. In response to comments and questions from Members, it was said:


(a) Asked for clarification on the figures from the Kent website (Crackdown on illegal vape sales and more support to stub out cigarettes ‘welcome’ - News & Features - Kent County Council) which mentioned Department of Health and Social Care funding of £ 3 million,  number of smokers in Kent and the cost of smoking-related issues for the county. Wou said they would review the statistics on the website before giving a response. The funding mentioned on the website is for a national initiative.


(b) Members said that the central government should be lobbied to add a tax or levy on vape sales at the point of purchase to cover environmental costs. 


(c) Asked that vape purchases be included in challenge 25. Dr Wou said it was being considered but new retailers may not be fully aware of the regulations and would need to make them aware as part of the process. Details on the fine handed to those retailers selling to underage people would be provided after the meeting. 


(d) A Member said that teenagers need to be educated on the health risks of vapes and that social media platforms could be the most effective way of communicating this. Another Member added that local sports personalities could be encouraged to raise awareness. Dr Wou said that work was ongoing to provide young people with the right information and was working with schools and parents to circulate this. It was noted that Public Health would work with the communications team to plan how to reach out to young people best.  


(e) It was said that a letter should be sent to the Prime Minster to ensure he keeps the pledge to crack down on legal loopholes and aggressive marketing strategies. It was also asked if countywide evidence and data had been supplied to the central government following their call for evidence. 


(f) A Member expressed concern that sweet shops were selling vapes and if there was a way for the Council to discourage this. Dr Wou said that trading standards would look into issues such as this as part of their project. 


(g) It was said that there needs to be an easy access portal for local people to report illegal sales. Dr Wou said that trading standards would use local intelligence to help crack down on illegal sales, Dr Wou would follow up with them on their plan for how locals can report instances. 


(h) Asked if data had or was being collected on the health and financial costs of vaping and if this justified the benefits it brought as a treatment for adult smoking. Dr Wou said that this point would be taken away and reported back. 


(i) The Chair asked Mr Watkins what the next steps would be. Mr Watkins said that he would follow up the letter calling for a ban on disposable vapes with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Primary Care and Public Health and he noted that most of the action would have to be done at a national level. It was said that targeted measures with schools and trading standards could be taken as outlined by Members. There would be a crackdown on illegal vapes being sold within the county. 


(j) A Member asked for an update report to be brought back to the committee. 


(k) The committee agreed that it be recommended that the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Mr Dan Watkins, follow up with national government partners on the ban of disposable vapes.    


5.    RESOLVED that the Health Reform and Public Health Cabinet Committee commented on and noted the report. 

Supporting documents: