A crackdown on the marketing and sale of vapes is on the way with children as young as primary school age trying them out.
Deputy Andy Cameron has been campaigning on the issue because of concerns about the prevalence of vaping in school-aged children.
The island has no official restrictions on the liquid that is used inside the vape.
"They’re on display in very accessible areas, children are able to purchase them because there’s no real regulations on age or sale to minors and I think there’s another issue that they’re being shoplifted but a shop owner would be reluctant to take action in those cases," said Deputy Cameron.
"The way they are marketed is a real problem as well. Having all these sweet related flavours just add up to something that is a very pleasant looking item for teenagers to use."
Pictured: Deputy Andy Cameron.
They can be on sale next to sweets in petrol stations, which is something that concerns Deputy Cameron.
"So the association is that they are sweets. I heard one story that a grandmother was in a supermarket and her granddaughter said that all her friends at school were using them and asked her to buy one as it was the latest gadget. She did and later found out what it was and was completely horrified. The way these are marketed is very concerning."
E-cigarettes work by heating a liquid that typically contains nicotine and flavourings among other chemicals.
They can be refillable or single use.
A recent study by University College London found that, in January 2022, 15% of 18-year-old survey respondents in Great Britain used e-cigarettes, up from 11% in January 2021. This compared to 8% among all adults. The proportion of 18-year-old vapers using disposable e-cigarettes increased markedly over the same period from 1% to 57%.
"The students I've heard actually talk about these are comparing the taste of the sweet related flavours and they don't realise the addictive nature of nicotine. That is an issue and there's definitely a higher percentage taking up vaping than were previously taking up smoking."
Deputy Cameron said that the levels of vaping in St Sampsons High has led to the need to remove the doors of toilets.
He posed questions of Health & Social Services about the lack of regulation, telling the Assembly that a “significant number of primary school children" were trying these devices and by the end of secondary school the "majority of girls have tried vaping with many of them using them regularly”.
There is an existing States resolution that directs Health to move forward on the regulation and control of e-cigarettes.
At the end of November, its President Deputy Al Brouard said that the committee had very recently agreed that it wanted greater regulation through legislation. In the first instance this will include how these products can be promoted and any age restrictions - the idea is to ban sales to under-18s.
Pictured: Health and Social Care President Deputy Al Brouard.
Deputy Brouard said that most shops were already behaving responsibly.
While officers have scoped the legal work required, it was not possible to confirm a timescale for taking a report to the Assembly as the project needed to be prioritised alongside other workstreams
Deputy Cameron was reassured by what Deputy Brouard had said.
"I’m feeling fairly confident. But I also think there’s an environmental impact," said Deputy Cameron.
In November, 18 environment and health groups wrote to the UK Environment Secretary Therese Coffey demanding that the Government ban the sale of single-use e-cigarettes to stem their “rapidly escalating threat” to public health and the environment.
Disposable vapes contain single use plastic, nicotine and batteries, all of which can be hazardous to the environment and wildlife, they argued.
They also contain lithium.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has argued that the use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for children and young adults. It says that nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Young people using e-cigarettes may also be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.