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Why are people so worried about kids vaping?  

Welcome to Tuesday’s Early Edition from i.

With brightly coloured labels plastered with the names of sweet flavours, such as ‘watermelon bubble gum’ and ‘cotton candy’, it seems clear disposable vaping manufacturers know their demographic. But while hailed as a way for smoking addicts to help kick their habits, there are growing fears that children – who will likely never put a cigarette in their mouths – are becoming addicted to vaping. Several months ago Professor Sir Chris Whitty told MPs vaping was “an addictive product” with “unknown consequences for developing minds” and marketing it to children was “utterly unacceptable”. “Yet it is happening,” he said. “The rates of vaping have doubled in the last couple of years among children. So that is an appalling situation.” Other experts have warned the steep increase shows vaping is becoming an epidemic that will lead to a “health crisis”. Now the UK’s most senior paediatricians are calling for an outright ban on disposable e-cigarettes to prevent this happening. How bad is the problem, and will a ban work? We’ll take a look after the news.

 Today’s news, and why it matters

Conservative MPs on Tuesday criticised the Government’s approach to the Channel crisis despite Rishi Sunak’s claim that his plan to stop small boat crossings is ‘starting to work’. “It’s 20 per cent down on last year, which was a record-breaking year, are we really pointing to that as a success?”, one Tory MP told i. Labour also said claims the Government was bringing down the asylum backlog were “wrong”.

Families of people who died from Covid have criticised the official inquiry for failing to investigate the NHS and care home response to the pandemic until after the election. The Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group questioned why public hearings for one of the key parts of Baroness Hallett’s probe, into how the NHS coped as the virus spread through the UK in 2020, would not be held until autumn 2024.

The human race may only have two years left to tame advanced artificial intelligence systems before they become too powerful to control, Rishi Sunak’s chief adviser on the technology has warned. Matt Clifford said he was kept awake at night by the admission by the world’s top AI experts that they “don’t understand exactly” how these systems “exhibit the behaviours that they do” – a situation he agreed was terrifying.

A Conservative MP has been charged with racially aggravated abuse – but will not have the whip suspended. Bob Stewart, 73, the Member of Parliament for Beckenham, is due to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday, 5 July in connection with an incident in Belgravia, London on 14 December.

A Labour politician who has been blocked from running as Mayor of the North East says candidates feel the “sword of Damocles” is hanging over them and makes the party look undemocratic. Jamie Driscoll is currently North of Tyne mayor but has been excluded from the longlist to run the new expanded authority that will replace his role. It’s the latest example of a left-leaning candidate being blocked from running under the oversight of Sir Keir Starmer.

A Scottish climber has conquered the world’s toughest boulder climb in record time after practising on a 3D-printed version of the four-metre rock in Finland. Will Bosi is only the second person to climb the fiendishly difficult Burden of Dreams boulder in Lappnor.

Five key questions on vaping:

How many kids vape? While the prevalence of drinking and some recreational drugs has seen a decline among younger age groups, there has been a marked increase in use of vaping amongst children in recent years. In May, a report by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) suggested there had been a 50 per cent rise in the proportion of British children vaping – from 7.7 per cent in 2022 to 11.6 per cent this year. Back in 2018, the percentage of 11 to 15-year-olds who said they vaped regularly or occasionally was six per cent, statistics by the NHS said. But its figures showed that in 2022, some 18% of all 15-year-olds were current e-cigarette users, and use among 15-year-old girls had shot up from 10 per cent in 2018 to more than one in five by 2021. Last week, one teacher told i it had become an “epidemic” in their school. “Up and down the country, teachers like me are fighting an epidemic of vaping among children as young as 11, who are being influenced by sweet flavours and social media advertising campaigns,” they wrote. “The children are like bees to a honeypot, attracted by shiny, glamorous vapes in the windows and sugary flavours that appeal to juvenile taste buds.” Read the full piece here.

What are the health impacts? Due to e-cigarettes still being a somewhat recent invention, there is no clear evidence of long term health effects. But studies have shown links between e-cigarettes and depression, anxiety and learning disorders. Other serious health problems including lung and cardiovascular disease have also been observed. The products contain “dangerous carcinogens such as nitric oxide, which when burned creates formaldehyde,” one study noted, adding: “Second-hand exposure to e-cigarette aerosol may also be risky, although the level of risks are currently unknown”. The World Health Organization says there is evidence to suggest that minors who have never smoked but use e-cigarettes “can double their chance of starting to smoke tobacco cigarettes later in life.” It also notes that users can suffer physical injuries including burns, if the products explode or malfunction. There is also concern over the amount of nicotine in e-cigarettes. While the amount varies, some products are said to contain the equivalent of around 50 cigarettes in just one vape, and there are worries that shops are selling them too easily to under 18s. However a major review carried out last year also found that levels of exposure to cancer causing and other toxicants in those who vaped were “drastically lower” compared with those who smoke. Those researchers said helping people switch from smoking to vaping should be considered a priority if the Government is to achieve its target of a smoke-free England by 2030. Read the full piece here. Beyond the health impacts, however, there is another pressing concern – the environment. Disposable e-cigarettes are notoriously difficult to recycle and often cause dangerous fires in UK waste plants. “Their damage cannot be overstated,” the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said.

Have other countries banned them? “Westminster’s approach to this problem is out of step with even our closest neighbours, with countries such as Scotland, France, Germany, and Ireland all seriously considering a ban,” the RCPCH noted in its report. Last year, the US moved to ban the sale of all products sold by Juul, one of the country’s top e-cigarette companies. Meanwhile Australia became the only country to make it illegal to possess and use nicotine-based vaping products without a prescription in 2021. This year it also banned disposable vapes and the importation of non-prescription products, including those without nicotine. “No more bubble-gum flavours, pink unicorns or vapes disguised as highlighter pens for kids to hide them in their pencil cases,” Health Minister Mark Butler said at the time.

But do bans work? Prohibition, as is widely documented, doesn’t have a great track record. Already, anecdotal evidence suggests children are buying unregulated vapes from “dealers” – some in the school toilets. “Recent mass searches of Year 10s have revealed bundles of hundreds of vapes in students’ schoolbags, changing hands for as little as £5 a vape,” writes one teacher. Two researchers in Australia pointed to statistics showing that even after a year of the prescription-only law, more than 90% of people vaping were buying them illegally. As they note: “Prohibition does have a number of unintended consequences, including driving drugs underground and creating a black market or increasing harms as people switch to other drugs, which are often more dangerous.” It’s a sentiment echoed by Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), which believes a complete ban on disposable vapes will drive “the illicit market thereby making it harder not easier to ensure products are recycled”. Campaigners point to better education, especially in schools, which focus on harm-minimisation rather than scare tactics.

If you are addicted, how do you stop? William Porter started smoking at 14, and then became addicted to vaping too. He has spent years researching and understanding addiction and the science behind how to quit smoking for good. Here, he explains why people should stop vaping, and how to do it.

Disposable e-cigarettes are a long-term threat to children’s health and awful for the environment, medics said (Photo: Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Around the world

The Ukrainian army has accused Russia of blowing up the Kakhovka dam in the Russian-controlled parts of Kherson and has called for people living downstream to evacuate in the face of catastrophic flooding. “The scale of the destruction, the speed and volumes of water, and the likely areas of inundation are being clarified,” the command said on its Facebook page.

US regulators are suing the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, and its chief executive Changpeng Zhao, accusing the company of spinning “an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law”. The US Securities and Exchange Commission alleged in court filings that Binance artificially inflated its trading volumes, misled investors and was secretly able to “exercise control” of customers’ assets.

The former US vice-president Mike Pence has officially launched his bid for the White House. He will face off against Donald Trump to be the Republican Party’s candidate for presidency. Mr Pence has filed the paperwork to enter the race but will formally launch his campaign at an event in Iowa on Wednesday – coinciding with his 64th birthday.

Apple has unveiled a $3,499 (£2,849) augmented reality headset called Apple Vision Pro. CEO Tim Cook said the new headset “seamlessly blends the real world and the virtual world”. It will be released early next year in the US.

“One of the most sex-ridden books around,” is how one incensed parent has described a book now banned from primary and middle schools in Utah. The text in question – the Bible. Book bans in the US are on the rise, as conservative parents demand ‘inappropriate’ texts are removed from the eyes of their children. This particular parent continued: “You’ll no doubt find that the Bible . . . has ‘no serious values for minors’ because it’s pornographic by our new definition.”

 Watch out for…

 a court case involving Prince Harry – but not *that* one. Today, the US Government is set to be challenged in a federal court in Washington DC over its decision not to disclose the reasoning behind admitting the Duke of Sussex into the country, despite his admitting illegal drug use. 

 Thoughts for the day

Anti-woke warriors are the true proponents of cancel culture. The powerful are fixated on the woke, and hellbent on preserving their inherited advantages, says Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

What did we expect from Holly Willoughby’s This Morning statement? We’d have never accepted her real emotions, writes Emily Bootle.

Move over beige brigade, the Barbie movie is here and it’s time to paint our living rooms hot pink. For too long the view of our interiorscape has been distinctly off colour, argues Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

It was the birth of Barbie in the early 50s that turned pink girly (Photo: AP/Warner Bros)

Culture Break

‘This is more than a queer love story’: Brokeback Mountain’s stars on bringing the play to the West End. The new stage version has turned Annie Proulx’s short story into a hit ‘play with music’ at London’s newest theatre, writes Natalie Jamieson.

Lucas Hedges and Mike Faist as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist (Photo: Mark Seliger/Feast Creative/@sohoplace)

The Big Read

Perfectionism held me back my whole life. I found myself exhausting, here’s how I overcame it. In his new book The Perfection Trap, Professor Thomas Curran looks at how this often-admired trait can wreak havoc on our lives, reveals Kasia Delgado.

Kasia Delgado letting a little more chaos into her life (Photo: Teri Pengilley for inews)


Man Utd can only rely on six players – here are the areas they must improve this summer. Erik ten Hag can bridge the gap between the volume and quality of players Man Utd need by signing reliable, resilient talents, writes George Simms.

Being able to trust Marcus Rashford is key to Man Utd – bringing in Mount and dropping Maguire would be key to improving (Photo: Getty)

Something to brighten your day

The world’s wildlife is in crisis, but knowing how much is actually out there is one of the hardest tasks in conservation. Now, academics have found we may already have a globe-spanning record of biodiversity spanning decades that nobody had previously noticed. Researchers found that air quality monitors have been inadvertently collecting plant and animal DNA. “This could be a treasure trove of biodiversity data,” one co-author said.

Air-quality monitors, used in their thousands around the world to keep an eye on atmospheric pollution, have been inadvertently collecting plant and animal DNA (Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

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