The report of the Head of Democratic Services
presented an item regarding a summary briefing from the Public
Health service setting out the possible impacts of increased vaping
on children and young people in Leeds (Appendix 1) and to consider
what, if any, scrutiny actions could follow.
The Principal Scrutiny Adviser set out the
basis for the item coming forward at the Board meeting, following
discussions from the meeting held on 7th June 2023.
Prior to the meeting Board members suggested that a working group
be established to look into the item
further and in conjunction with the Adults, Health and Active
Lifestyles Scrutiny Board chaired by Councillor Scopes.
The following were in attendance for this
- Julie Longworth, Director of
Children and Families
- Kathryn Ingold, Chief Officer Public
- Heather Thomson, Head of Public
- Councillor Pryor, Economy, Culture
- Councillor Venner, Executive Member
for Children Social Care and Health Partnerships
- Councillor Lay, Otley and Yeadon
- Councillor Scopes, Chair Adults,
Health, and Active Lifestyles
- Rob Clayton, Principal Scrutiny
The Chief Officer (Public Health) introduced
the item and thanked the Board for highlighted the importance of
the issues associated with young people vaping. The following was
- There is a clear role for vapes to
assist smokers quit smoking, but not non-smoking children using
- Vapes contain nicotine that can be
highly addictive and there is evidence of unregulated vape products
with higher nicotine concentrations being sold.
- It is reported that the proportion
of children experimenting with vapes has increased by 50%
nationally; in Leeds the data position is similar based on data
from the ‘My Health My School’ survey.
- The primary reason for young people
trying them are experimental and whilst the vaping harm is
significantly less than smoking, it is not risk-free and the
long-term health impacts on young people are un-known.
- There are concerns with the sale and
regulation of vaping products. There are no restrictions on shop
displays and the industry is clever at marketing vaping
- Action is underway in terms of
producing educational materials, presentations to key partners and
working alongside West Yorkshire Trading Standards.
Councillor Lay, as one of the elected members
that raised concerns about the impact of vaping on children and
young people, shared his concerns with the Board, explaining that
there are a number of issues in relation
to marketing, production, and distribution of vapes and the impact
this has on young children in terms of the health implications and
the uncertainty of the side effects that they cause. Councillor Lay
explained that everybody should be doing their upmost to protect
children from harm and highlighted a route that Australia has taken
in terms of making sure that vapes are only accessible via
prescription. Councillor Lay set out a number
of suggestions in terms of:
National legislative changes.
Taxing disposable vapes.
Education and awareness, including prevention programmes in the
school curriculum and drawing emphasis on the importance of making
Providing accurate information on the harmful effects of nicotine
Restricting markets and advertisement and incorporating stricter
regulations around the use of vapes.
Councillor Scopes, as Chair of the Scrutiny
Board Adults, Health and Active Lifestyles acknowledged the
negative health implications of children and young people vaping,
and set out three points of interest in terms of:
What can be done locally in terms of restricting advertisement.
Working with partners such as West Yorkshire Trading Standards to
understand the work they’re doing to stop underage sales and
where there are specific problems in terms of local shops near
Pressuring the Government on national legislation around sales and
Officers in attendance added the following
- The importance of providing
factual information on the risks and
harm associated with vaping.
- The opportunity to be involved in a
working group was welcomed by officers.
- It was acknowledged that national
legislation changes would have the biggest impact moving forward
and noted that taxing changes in Scotland has been proven
- Further targeted data reporting can
be undertaken, and it is acknowledged that the figures may not be
completely accurate due to this being self-reported data from
- The reduction in smoking rates has
largely been achieved through legislative and regulatory measures
including reducing marketing and access to tobacco products.
- There is still a balance to be taken
in encouraging the use of e-cigarettes to help adults stop smoking
but there is work to be done in terms of dissuading experimentation
and ensuring young people who do experiment, do not become into
The Board discussed the following matters:
- What is currently being done locally
and the partners involved. It is noted that educational materials
are already being considered and LCC are working with academic
colleagues and Trading Standards on underage sales and un-regulated
vapes. It was acknowledged that vapes have become easily accessible
and a concentrated piece of work is on-going with partners on
retail education and responding to complaints of underage
- ‘My Health My Schools’
survey. It was confirmed that colleagues have re-assessed the
questions to make sure they align with national survey to assist
- The Board commented that some of the
marketing seems to be directly related to young people and there
are a variety of different flavours that young people may find
appealing. It was reported that young children are not keen on
menthol and tobacco flavoured vapes but do favour fruit flavours
which can be the subject of marketing.
- The difference between vapes and
cigarettes. It was noted that regulated vapes contain a lot less
nicotine and tend to be used as more of a ‘grazing’
approach and to manage nicotine dependency.
- Test purchasing and penalties on
business in regard to underage sales. It
was confirmed that a recent case saw a person being fined
£2,000 for a business selling to an underage person. It is
not certain whether that fine is enough to be a deterrent for
businesses and how their business will be impacted as a result of this. It was added that anecdotally,
concerns have been expressed that the city-centre is where children
are able to purchase vape products largely unchallenged.
- Members believed that the data as
set out in the submitted report potentially underestimates the
problem, and that usage is much higher in
- There is also an environmental
impact in terms of disposable vapes and there is evidence of
increased littering around schools in Leeds.
- It was suggested that the local
authority work with partners to tackle online underage sales.
In summary, the Board agreed to take this item
forward in a working group involving relevant partners such as West
Yorkshire Police, Trading Standards, LCC Public Health, LCC
Children and Families, as well as the relevant Scrutiny Boards. The
Board agreed that the promotion of vaping products needs to be
looked at, as well as the health and behavioural implications
associated with young children using them. It was noted that there
is a possibility for the Scrutiny Board, as part of the working
group, to write to the Government department to set out actions the
Board feel to be appropriate in terms of marketing, distribution,
The Chair thanked everybody for their
attendance and explained the working group as suggested and agreed
by Board members will look at:
- What the Scrutiny Board want the
Government to do nationally about this issue.
- To work with partners such as
Trading Standards specifically on underage sales and what work can
be done with local businesses. As well as liaison with colleagues
in health and education.
- What Leeds can do locally to ensure
the local authority are seen as an exemplar city in taking an
active role in tackling young people vaping. One possible option
might be to consider a voluntary code of conduct on marketing vapes
amongst businesses in the city seeking to get a commitment to not
market vapes at young people.
To note the contents of the report, and in particular the
information provided on vaping usage and its impacts on children
and young people as contained in Appendix 1 of the submitted
To agree to establish a working group in conjunction with the
Adults, Health and Active Lifestyles Scrutiny Board and various
partners from Public Health, Children and Families as well as
Trading Standards, West Yorkshire Police and Board members.