Harmful e-cigarettes are being made to look attractive and fashionable by marketing campaigns, according to an advisor for a health service.
Carol Bramhall, of Blackpool Stop Smoking Service, believes that because e-cigarettes are not subject to the same advertising bans as cigarettes, and are sold in vibrant colours and flavours, they are more appealing to teenagers.
This comes as a survey of 3,574 young people, conducted by Trading Standards North West, found more than 84 per cent of 14 to 17-year-old smokers have used the devices or bought them.
Unlike other nicotine replacement products, e-cigarettes are unlicensed, and there is currently no research to show that they help people to quit smoking, which has led Lancashire County Council to urge people to stay away from them.
Mrs Bramhall said: “There’s an issue with them being attractive to youths, because they come in all kinds of flavours, they are blinged up, look pretty, and come in fancy colours.
“Anyone can sell them, and they are able to buy them from all kinds of outlets such as petrol stations, dedicated shops, or online.”
Celebrities including One Direction’s Zayn Malik, supermodel Kate Moss and Cheryl Cole have all been photographed smoking e-cigarettes, something which Mrs Bramhall believes sets a bad example.
She said: “Anecdotally, we have heard about young people using them in school, because they are fashionable, and parents buying them for children, which certainly shouldn’t be happening because they are not licensed for people under 18.
“This generation of children haven’t seen the cigarette adverts that have been banned in this country, but e-cigarettes are allowed to be advertised everywhere, and I have two teenagers that will see them.
“Popstars and movie stars have endorsed them, which is what used to happen with tobacco companies in the 1950s and 60s.”
Jonathan Abbott-Hull sells e-cigarettes from shops in Layton and Fleetwood.
He said: “We do have a lot of kids coming in to look around, but we kick them straight out because we don’t advocate it as a habit, we sell it as an alternative to smoking.”
Contact the stop smoking service on (01253) 651570 or 951570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org