Despite being under age to purchase tobacco products, 1,994 teens were prescribed nicotine patches on the NHS to help them quit smoking. To the shock of many, a small proportion of these were children as young as 11.
The NHS reports specified that the number of prescriptions given to 15 year olds was 557, a total of 240 to 14-year-olds, 73 to 13-year olds, 31 presecritopns to children aged 12, and fewer than 10 to children aged 11. Officials refrained from disclosing the exact figure for the latter.
Chief executive of health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Deborah Arnott, said that approximately 280 children a day are still picking up the habit, and two out of three of these end up addicted to tobacco.
“GPs will only be prescribing nicotine to children who have come to them in desperate need. Nicotine patches and gum are highly cost-effective when compared to the costly treatment these children could well go on to require for cancers, heart and lung diseases if they are not given this help.”
Low teen vaping rates
Meanwhile, an ASH report published last year, indicated that contrary to the alleged alarming teen vaping rates reported by the US FDA, the proportion of UK under 18s who try vaping, has dropped to the lowest level since 2016.
The following were the key findings:
“-More than three quarters of 11-18 year olds have never tried (76.9%) or are unaware of e-cigarettes (6.6%).
-Young people vape mainly just to give it a try (52.4%) not because they think it looks cool (1.0%).
-In 2019 15.4% of 11-18 year olds had tried vaping, compared to 16.0% in 2018. This is an increase from 2015 when 12.7% of 11-18 year olds had tried e-cigarettes.
-In 2019, 1.6% of 11-18 year olds used e-cigarettes more than once a week (1.7% in 2018) compared to 0.5% in 2015.
-Vaping is much less common among young people who have never smoked. A large majority of never smokers aged 11-18, 93.8% in total, have either never used an e-cigarette (87.8%) or are unaware of them (6.0%). Of young people aged 11-18 years old who have never smoked, 5.5% have ever tried e-cigarettes, 0.8% are current vapers, only 0.1% vape more than once a week, and not a single never smoker reported vaping daily.
-Children under 16 are less likely to try e-cigarettes than 16-18 year olds. 8.5% of 11-15 year olds have tried vaping, compared to 26.7% of 16-18 year olds.”
The media tends to focus on alarmist and inaccurate vape news
In an article on their website, the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) mentioned the report, saying that contrary to inaccurate alarmist headlines, this report was not covered enough. “The media mostly avoided reporting on the good news that the proportion of under 18s who try vaping has dropped to the lowest level since 2016.There was also little coverage that those who had tried an e-cigarette once or twice in 2019 was lower than in 2015 and that regular use of e-cigarettes amongst 11-18 year olds has declined in 2019 compared to 2018.”
Read Further: The Sun