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SHRN data informs Public Health Wales  vaping guidance 

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Public Health Wales has published new guidance for secondary schools to help tackle the rise in youth vaping 

The guidance, which can be read here, provides key information to schools around e-cigarettes and their use (commonly known as ‘vaping’) among young people, as well as actions schools can take to address vaping. It draws on data from the School Health Research Network (SHRN) Student Health and Wellbeing (SHW) survey, which shows vaping has risen among 11–16-year-olds in Wales in recent years.  

The 2021/22 survey also reported: 

  • 1 in 5 secondary aged learners (20%) from Year 7 to 11 had ever tried vapes 
  • 5% of secondary aged learners reported use of vapes regularly (defined as at least weekly) 
  • Year 11 learners were more likely to use a vaping device at least weekly (14%) compared with Year 7 learners (1%). 
  • Secondary aged learners from less affluent families were the most likely to have tried vapes and to use them regularly 
  • A higher proportion of year 7 to 11 girls (7%) reported vaping at least weekly  compared with boys (4%). Amongst young people who identified as neither a  boy nor a girl, 8% reported vaping at least weekly. 1 

Among the actions suggested to respond to and address vaping, Public Health Wales advises schools to undertake ten key actions in relation to vaping. When used alongside other priority areas as part of their curriculum delivery and  implementation of a whole-school approach to health and wellbeing, these actions include: 

  • Using the SHRN dashboard to understand how vaping behaviours at their school compare with other areas and Wales wide. 
  • Using the national SHRN Student Health and Wellbeing report alongside each school’s SHRN report to help identify the age profile of vaping behaviour and plan curriculum delivery accordingly. 
  • Continuing to participate in the SHRN school surveys to help build a picture of smoking and vaping behaviours and responses and how how they are evolving. 

SHRN Acting Scientific Lead and Analyst, Dr Nick Page, said: 

‘This guidance is a great example of how SHRN is supporting public health improvement efforts across Wales by providing actionable data around youth vaping. A key strength of SHRN data is that it provides evidence at national, regional, and local levels, enabling schools to identify the health and wellbeing needs of learners and target appropriate action. The 2023 Student Health and Wellbeing survey is currently in the field and includes additional questions on disposable vaping devices and harm perceptions. This data, available in spring 2024, will add to the existing evidence base around youth vaping in Wales and inform future preventative strategies.’ 

Information and Guidance on Vaping for Secondary-aged learners in Wales, compiled by the Tobacco Control Team and Educational Settings Team, Health Improvement Division, Public Health Wales, can be read here: .

Background to the guidance can be read on the Public Health Wales website: .

More on the survey can be read on the SHRN website: .

1. Page, N., Angel, L., Ogada, E., Young, H., Murphy, S. (2023). Student Health and Wellbeing in Wales: Report of the 2021/22 Health Behaviour in Schoolaged Children Survey and School Health Research Network Student Health and Wellbeing Survey. Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK.