AN MP has called for legislation around the marketing of e-cigarettes to be tightened after primary school children were caught vaping in Darlington.

Darlington MP Jenny Chapman said a primary school teacher in her constituency has told her children as young as 11, and possibly even younger, have been caught using e-cigarettes.

Smoking awareness group Ash say more than three quarters of 11-18-year-olds nationally have never tried vaping, but Ms Chapman says the flavours on offer and marketing tactics lead young people to think vaping is fun and safe

In 2019, more than 15 per cent of 11-18-year-olds had tried vaping, compared with just 12.7 per cent in 2015. However vaping is much less common among young people who have never smoked.

Eight-and-a-half per cent of 11-15-year-olds have tried vaping, according to Ash.

The Northern Echo: Darlington MP Jenny ChapmanDarlington MP Jenny Chapman

Ms Chapman said: "E-cigarettes have been brilliant at helping people quit smoking but it’s worrying when I see Darlington children vaping.

"The anecdotal evidence I have gathered includes the children I have seen vaping across the town, and a primary school teacher has told me about primary school-aged children using e-cigarettes.

"The flavours and marketing, although not supposed to be aimed at under 16s, leads young people to think vaping is fun and safe. We need some regulation when it comes to advertising and marketing these products.

"I’ve got a meeting with public health officials coming up to see what our local data shows about usage here and what we could do about it. I am not calling for them to be banned because they are less harmful and a way to help people give up smoking, but we shouldn't be in a situation where they are appealing to children."

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash said: “E-cigarettes are the most popular quitting aid for smokers and are proven to be effective. It is illegal for under 18s to purchase e-cigarettes and it is also illegal for adults to buy for underage users.

"Our annual survey found that of young people aged 11-18 who have never smoked, just 0.8 per cent are current vapers, only 0.1 per cent vape more than once a week, and not a single never smoker reported vaping daily.

"These figures include 18 year olds who can legally buy e-cigarettes so if anything, they overstate the use."