Headteachers are under pressure to ban vaping in schools before the law is changed to make it illegal for under-18s to buy e-cigarettes.
There is growing concern that pupils are getting around long-standing rules on smoking by using fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes between lessons.
Now Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is urging schools to ban vaping in the same was as normal cigarettes.
There is growing concern that pupils are getting around long-standing rules on smoking by using fruit-flavoured e-cigarettes between lessons (picture posed by model)
E-cigarettes had been seen as a tool for smokers to get their nicotine fix without inhaling harmful smoke.
But the long-term health impacts are still unclear, and there are fears that young people using them could ‘graduate’ to smoking tobacco.
The battery-operated devices resemble pens or cigarettes and they contain a liquid form of nicotine that give users the same rush as smoking.
In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of shops selling them, and their flavoured refills which are designed to taste of fruit, coffee, mint and even tobacco.
A study by the University of Cardiff found three times as many children aged 10 and 11 had tried e-cigarettes as have smoked tobacco.
A study of 1,601 pupils aged 10 and 11 in Wales found that six per cent had tried e-cigarettes compared to just two per cent who had smoked tobacco.
Among those who had used e-cigarettes, 14 per cent said they might start smoking tobacco compared to just two per cent of children who had never tried.
Headteachers across the country have been forced to issue warnings to parents about the ‘increasing popularity of flavoured vapour pens or sticks’ and raise fears about their ‘obvious links to other banned activities’.
Harris Academy in Greenwich issued a warning: ‘Parents and students are reminded that ‘Vaping’ or ‘e-cigarettes’ are banned from school and will be sanctioned in the same way as smoking.’
Harris Academy in Greenwich is among the schools to have issued a warning parents and pupils about vaping
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan is urging schools to ban vaping in the same was as normal cigarettes
Mrs Morgan wants to see similar bans implemented across the country.
A source close to the Education Secretary said: ‘This is something Nicky is concerned about and she is clear that schools should be banning them in the same way as normal cigarettes.’
From October, it will be illegal to sell e-cigarettes and refills to anyone under the age of 16.
It will also be an offence for an adult to buy an e-cigarette on behalf of a child.
Setting out details of the new laws earlier this year, health minister Jane Ellison said: ‘The Government want to protect children and young people from addiction to any substance, particularly those that might be harmful to health.
‘Given the rapid emergence of e-cigarettes in recent years, coupled with concerns about the increased awareness and use of these products by children, the Government are committed to setting an age of sale requirement.’