Harborough headteachers unite to warn against vaping risks in local community
Headteachers from nine schools across Harborough district have raised concerns about excessive vaping in local communities and its effect on children.
Headteachers from schools Robert Smyth, Welland Park, Lutterworth High, Lutterworth College, Tudor Grange Samworth Academy, Wigston College, Wigston Academy, The Beauchamp College and Kibworth Mead Academy have penned an open letter to local communities.
The letter – which aims to raise awareness of vaping and THC pens, and develop a community response – has also been endorsed by Harborough District Council and Harborough Community Safety Partnership.
It says there have been increased reports of young people becoming unwell and needing medical attention and that vaping at a young age can affect development of the lungs and lead to breathing conditions in later life.
The letter reads: “We have recently been made aware of incidents in our local community where children and young people are being exposed to potentially harmful substances using e-cigarettes and vapes. Like cigarettes, retailers cannot sell vaping items to people under 18. Students have reported they are able to acquire devices online or from older siblings, friends and sometimes even parents or carers.
“We realise this is an issue not specific to one school but a risk that exists within the community impacting on all schools. “
The headteachers are calling on parents and carers to understand the risks and talk to children about vaping.
They also say all schools will be taking strong action against pupils who are found to use vapes.
Dan Cleary, principal of The Robert Smyth Academy, said: "Despite the fact it is illegal to sell vaping products to anyone under the age of 18, we are witnessing a widespread prevalence of vaping and the use of electronic cigarettes by children and young people in our communities. As a school leader and a parent, I am deeply concerned that many children are being put at risk because they have easy access to vaping products which can contain astronomic amounts of nicotine rendering children prone to early addiction and dependence.
"Vaping has become a trend which is supported by typical marketing approaches that attract children including advertising, easy access and the use of child-friendly flavours. We have all seen this story before and we need to call it out for what it really is - a highly addictive drug masquerading as a teen-friendly fashion accessory. We are also deeply concerned at the growing availability of vape pens that contain THC - a harmful and illegal substance.
"The school leaders who have signed this letter, speak with one voice on this issue; it is time to recognise the risk of vaping in our local area and work together to solve it. We will all continue to communicate these risks to keep children safe and we are confident that we can make a difference with the continued good support of our parent communities. We ask that parents read our open letter and get in touch if they wish to disclose a concern or if they need any support, advice or guidance related to this matter"