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Experts warn parents as social media could be teaching kids how to hide vapes

Despite being illegal, vaping is not uncommon among children – with hospital admissions for vaping-related disorders rising – and kids may be using TikTok tactics to hide their e-cigarettes

Underage smokers have started hiding their e-cigarettes after tricks have been shared on TikTok (stock image)

A warning is being issued to parents and guardians as children are hiding vapes – no thanks to hacks being shared online.

A shocking report released in April this year by the Department of Health and Social Care revealed vaping has tripled among children over the last three years. While it remains illegal for anyone under 18 to buy e-cigarettes in the UK, unfortunately this often doesn’t stop children getting their hands on these products.

Many worried parents may be left wondering whether their own children could be secretly vaping without their consent. Last year, there were 50 admissions to hospital for vaping related disorders involving children – including 11 aged four or under.

Jonathan Grigg, a professor of paediatric respiratory medicine at Queen Mary University of London, co-authored a paper in 2023 warning that kids who use vapes are “more likely to take up tobacco smoking”. He said: “This increase in hospitalisations is a totally predictable consequence of the government’s decision to allow a vaping free for all – with flavours designed to be attractive to children and young people and the disastrous assumption that vaping has little or no adverse health effects.”

It became clear that underage vape users who use social media have been getting tips on how to hide their vapes with hacks from other e-cigarette users. These hiding spots, often shared by teenagers online, are designed to help their peers avoid being caught by their parents and having their vapes confiscated.

Online vape retailer Go Smoke Free has uncovered where your child is most likely to be secretly storing a vape. Most secret vapers tend to hide small items inside unused clothing. This included inside hoodie pockets, rolled up in jumpers or simply buried in between socks.

Hiding small items behind paintings, canvases and posters was the second most common location, mentioned in 28% of online users. These videos often suggested taping the item to the inside of a wall canvas frame to take advantage of the dead space inside. Experts also found people have been using a pillow or the pillowcase as a hiding spot.

Also hiding items in or around bedroom drawers was the fourth most common location. Taping the item to the underside of the drawer, again where there is often dead space, was a frequently suggested tip. It was also found vapes or small items were stashed under bedroom mattresses or bed frames.

Vapers online also often propose hiding them inside stuffed toys. Doing so typically involves placing the vape into a pre-existing or cut small hole in the toy. Experts also say that teenagers tend to keep their vape inside a glasses case or jewellery box. Other locations included tucking the item into plants or fake books, taping their vapes behind or on top of bedroom fixtures, such as ceiling fans, lights or behind a wall mounted TV.

Unassuming items, such as hairbrushes, that have a hollow compartment and can easily be twisted open could also be used to house a vape.

How to talk vaping with your kids

Despite the potentially harmful nature of vapes, it’s recommended to exercise caution when approaching your children over the subject and has suggested tips for opening a non-confrontational dialogue that makes the situation better rather than worse.

According to the Department of Health, one in five children have tried vaping – so it’s understandable you’d want to question your child if you suspect them of using one. That said, it’s best to approach your child carefully and avoid confrontation that could escalate the situation.

Experts at Go Smoke Free issued advice on how to talk to your child about vaping, and said: “Remember to ensure that you are sensitive and caring when discussing the issue with your child. It’s good to communicate any concerns you have in a way that makes it clear you have their best interests at heart.

“Avoid confronting them angrily, invading their privacy, and demanding they stop using vapes, particularly in ways that may feel a threat or a punishment. These tactics are unlikely to work and may make your child distrustful or fearful of you.

“If your child is adamant about vaping, there is no guaranteed way to make them stop. What you can do, though, is create a supportive environment that fosters communication, awareness and good decision making. With these things in mind, you may be able to get to the root cause of your child’s vaping and give them the tools to lead healthier lives.”

Do you have a story? Get in touch at Lucy.Marshall@reachplc.com.




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