Express & Star

Star comment: We must be alert to the dangers of vaping

There are two ways of looking at vaping.

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The first is that it’s an effective way of helping people to cut cigarettes from their lives and the evidence so far shows it causes far less harm.

The second way to look at vaping is less benign. Some view it as a gateway for young people who then develop a dependency on nicotine as they go on to acquire the harmful habit of smoking cigarettes.

There is, of course, truth in both observations.

Yet a third way of looking at the issue is this. Vaping is big business and those behind it will seek to make it more attractive to potential customers. Accordingly, young people are enticed by sweet flavours and tempting displays in high street shops.

The same marketing tricks are at play as those employed decades ago when cigarettes were portrayed as being cool, with adverts from Hollywood stars or icons in fast cars.

Vaping was initially viewed as a welcome intervention to stop people from smoking. Yet now we can see that the unintended consequence of its popularity is that it actually encourages more people to develop an addiction to nicotine.

The dangers of nicotine have been known to all for generations and we must continue to push back against the tobacco industry, as we look to reduce the costs to the NHS and the number of lives cut short.

Taxes and regulations have helped to make smoking less affordable and less attractive, though the habit still has a lure that leads people into danger.

The reality is quite plain and simple. It is better that people neither vape nor smoke and there are many support mechanisms available to those who want to kick the habit.

*** Some object to the Government’s plan to trial its alert system by sending citizens an emergency text.

The event is happening on Sunday and we ought to take it at face value – a sensible way to pressure-test a system that may eventually become essential.

We have lived through Covid and observed the horrors of Ukraine. We know that we are not immune from danger and that the Government should test systems at a time of relative peace and stability.

Smartphones provide the ability for the Government to contact a large proportion of the population instantly. They system also gives the potential to alert communities to local issues – such as flooding on the River Severn.

They have been seen to work in other countries and it would be irresponsible not to investigate their potential use in this country too. Being prepared is sensible in an uncertain world.