At the end of the school day in my constituency, the streets are full of the sight of children happily chatting to one another, before heading their separate ways home.

Unfortunately, however, I am noticing more and more often that a concerning number of these young people are holding brightly coloured vapes, billowing sweetly flavoured clouds into the air around them.

This is not a phenomenon happening just in Hampstead and Kilburn, but across the whole of London, and indeed the rest of the country.

It is estimated that over 100,000 secondary school students in London have tried a vape and the number of young people in the UK who ‘use’ vapes has doubled across all age groups since 2021.

There has been an unquestionably rapid rise in underage vaping over the last two years and I am worried that the result could be a new generation of children hooked on nicotine.

Ham & High: Tulip Siddiq wants marketing of vapes aimed at young children to be bannedTulip Siddiq wants marketing of vapes aimed at young children to be banned (Image: Tulip Siddiq)

It is important to note here that vaping is effective at helping adult smokers quit. Indeed, people who use a vape together with joining local stop smoking services have some of the highest quit-success rates at between 59.7% and 74% in 2019 to 2020.

That being said, the situation now is that vapes are contributing towards a swathe of young people being introduced to nicotine who would not have otherwise had that exposure. We are at risk of going backwards in the mission to reduce the numbers of people addicted to nicotine. Not only this, but they are getting it through devices that we know little about.

Research has shown that young people using vapes are twice as likely to suffer from a chronic cough than non-users and nicotine can have a serious impact on adolescent brain development.

The Conservatives have shown a fundamental lack of concern about this. The Government voted against restricting the advertising of vapes to children and have yet to publish the tobacco control plan that was expected in 2021.

I firmly believe that, as a first step, we need to urgently ban the marketing of vapes to children.

More than half of children say that they are aware of vapes being advertised in shops. The colourful packaging and sugary flavours are clearly aimed at young people and this must be clamped down on.

Only then can we begin to claim to be serious about tackling this epidemic of young people picking up vaping.

  • Tulip Siddiq is the Labour MP for Hampstead and Kilburn.