Councillor Linzi McLaren welcomes Ulster Unionist Party Vaping Policy and brings Motion forward to council on the matter

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Councillor Linzi McLaren welcomes Ulster Unionist Party Vaping Policy and brings Motion forward to council on the matter

“I am delighted that the Ulster Unionist Party have brought forward a policy statement in regard to the growing concern about e-cigarettes and single-use disposable vapes. In doing so, we highlight the critical problems that have been identified and open the debate on how we can address this growing issue. I am aware that many people and governing bodies within the Ards and North Down Borough, also share these concerns, and in particular, the issues which pertain to the use of vapes by children and teenagers. Consequently, I am glad to have brought a motion before Council which both brings attention to the matter and places an onus on the Council to facilitate discussions and find solutions for the benefit of the health and wellbeing of residents in the Borough.

“Initially, the primary use of vapes would have been via a refillable e-cigarette and sold under the premise of an aid to stop smoking tobacco, but the growing trend is now leaning toward single-use disposables, which entered the market in 2021. These vapes are easier to use, widely available, have attractive colours and flavours and are affordable. With the cheapest being sold for around £4, disposable vapes are now widely used by children who find all of the above appealing. It is now commonplace to see teenagers holding them, smoking them and buying them in local shops. Far from being used as a device to stop smoking cigarettes, they are now nearly as vital an accessory as a mobile phone. There is currently very little legislation on vapes in Northern Ireland and whilst there are age restrictions on purchasing them, they still inevitably fall into children’s hands.

“A spate of recent alarming incidents involving children collapsing, after using vapes, has made parents and indeed schools, worry for their children’s safety. Where there is a vulnerable and easily influenced group, it is inevitable that sinister elements in society will aim to take advantage. Drug dealers have introduced an illegal synthetic drug called ‘spice’ into the mix and this has been enticing the children of Bangor and surrounding towns in the Borough, to experiment by adding ‘spice’ into their vapes. With catastrophic consequences. Children have recently had to receive emergency medical attention after collapsing when vaping ‘spice’, and the problem, unless we tackle it urgently, is only going to get worse.

“I have heard the concerns of parents in resident’s groups in my constituency of Holywood and Clandeboye, and the concerns of heads of schools and the police on the issue. What children are not realising, is that when they purchase vapes illegally, and more importantly, when they purchase spice to smoke in the vapes, they are leaving themselves open to a drug offence on their records, which could have devastating consequences for their future job prospects and education. Plus, it gives schools the extra heavy burden of monitoring and tackling the issue within their premises. It has been reported that vapes can be purchased via online food delivery apps, online from countries outside the UK, and from older people who are willing to purchase them on young people’s behalf. It is therefore understandable when parents worry that the situation is out of control.

“Single-use vapes also pose a significant risk to the environment, where roughly 5 million vapes are discarded every week in the UK. They contain a lithium battery which also poses a recycling challenge. Have a look at the bin the next time you leave a local grocery store, to see the hundreds of tiny vape stickers stuck to the bin, to give you an idea of how many are being sold!

“I have called on the Council to undertake a full review of options available to address my parties concerns and strengthen enforcement around importing and selling vapes. I have called for a ban on the importation of illicit vapes from areas without regulation and restriction on ingredients. Finally, I have called that Stormont, at the first available opportunity, bring forth legislation to enforce regulations. We must, absolutely must, ensure that the safety and welfare of our young children is a priority. As a mother of 4, I understand fully, the pressures placed upon children by their peers, but by attempting to draw attention to the dangers of single-use vapes, we can go some way to taking away the pressures that they face, and ultimately, ensure their health is not compromised before they even reach adulthood.”


Read our Vaping Policy: