SARAH VINE: Vaping is making me fear for my daughter

Like many parents, I’ve been following the growing questions about the safety of vaping with some trepidation.

The past few months have seen a steady stream of vape-related horror stories, all pointing to the same conclusion: e-cigarettes might not be as harmless as we thought.

The latest is the tale of Ewan Fisher, a teenager from the Midlands, who was hospitalised with severe respiratory failure after suffering a reaction to chemicals in his vaping liquids.

Fortunately, he’s made a full recovery; but it shook me because my own daughter — who is 16 — has recently taken up the habit, which is rife among teenagers.

As far as I can tell, vaping is quite simply the coolest thing ever for this generation, in the same way that when I was my daughter’s age we all wore winkle-pickers and smoked multi-coloured Sobranie Cocktail cigarettes at parties (bunions and mortality being very distant prospects back then).

The past few months have seen a steady stream of vape-related horror stories, all pointing to the same conclusion: e-cigarettes might not be as harmless as we thought (file photo)

And the reason it’s cool (apart from the fact that I don’t like her doing it, of course) is largely because the vape manufacturers have spent millions making it so.

Teenagers live and die by social media, and the companies know this. All over Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and TikTok, the message is relentless.

Vaping is harmless fun, nothing to worry about. Sure, maybe your parents don’t like it, but it’s better (and cheaper) than cigarettes and besides, it’s another trendy must-have plug-in tech device.

Vapes appeal to a young generation obsessed with gadgets and social media, but also with that other great scourge of the modern age: sugar. Sickly flavours reminiscent of pocket-money chews abound, ruthlessly aimed at the teenage palate.

They are the nicotine-laced equivalent of alcopops, highly addictive ingredients dressed up as fun.

Add to all that the inevitable celebrity seal of approval, from Cara Delevingne to Katy Perry, and you have the perfect marketing storm (not to mention the perfect parental headache). No wonder the things are everywhere, filling our pavements with choking clouds of smoke. And no wonder they represent such a potentially huge public health disaster.

Because the more evidence begins to emerge of how vape liquids can damage the lungs, the more it seems these devices merit an urgent rethink. In America, where the use of e-cigarettes has risen sharply among teenagers, from 1.5 per cent in 2011 to 20.8 per cent in 2018 — and where at least 40 people are said to have died from vaping-related lung disease — the Trump administration is about to unveil new restrictions.

It’s a move that has angered many, and which some believe may cost Donald Trump dearly at the polls. At least you can’t accuse him of pandering to the tobacco giants which, with utter cynicism — painfully aware that tobacco sales are in decline — have made sure they own chunks of the vaping market.

For years we were told smoking was harmless: advertised by doctors and dentists, cigarettes were even marketed at pregnant women and asthma sufferers.

Who would have thought back in the 1970s, when Marlboro Man was the height of cool, that cigarettes would now be emblazoned with graphic health warnings and sold from behind metal shutters?

And yet we face a situation with vapes where, despite growing fears about their safety, a blizzard of marketing tells us to fire one up. Go into any large branch of Boots, and you will find Juul pods behind the pharmacy counter. Vapes are at every supermarket checkout till. In just a few years, this alarmingly unchecked technology has become legitimised.

I may be unduly worried. This may all be a misunderstanding. Vaping may be vindicated as a safe alternative to cigarettes (Public Health England says it’s 95 per cent safer than smoking, though admits it’s not without risks).

But until we know for sure, shouldn’t we at least err on the side of caution . . . before the health of a generation goes up in smoke?

Anne was the pick of the crop

Why the outraged reaction to the portrayal of Princess Anne as a sex symbol in the new series of The Crown?

Why the outraged reaction to the portrayal of Princess Anne (pictured) as a sex symbol in the new series of The Crown?

First, the British upper classes are famous for their bed-hopping. Second, just look at her when she was in her prime as a lissom young thing. 

She must have been beating them off with a muddy riding crop.

The Queen shedding a tear on Remembrance Sunday

Power of a single tear

Olivia Colman, who plays the Queen in the aforementioned new series of The Crown, says the hardest part about playing the monarch was learning to control her emotions. 

All her life, the Queen has been required, as Colman puts it, to ‘hold it in’. 

That is what makes the image from this year’s Remembrance Sunday, of the Queen with a single tear rolling down her cheek, so deeply special — and so uncommonly moving. 

In a world where so many people (including that pair of ‘wounded creatures’ at Frogmore Cottage) seem endlessly to emote, the quiet sincerity of that single drop is worth a thousand crocodile tears.

Smallprint pirates

Devastating enough having your home and business destroyed; but discovering that your insurance company has also dodged paying you any compensation is heartbreaking.

Pam Webb, whose hotel and spa business was flooded by the River Don, burst into tears when she discovered ‘an exemption for flooding in the policy that had not been there before’. Why does this not surprise me? My experience of insurance companies is that they will do almost anything to avoid paying out, including slipping clauses into the smallprint that, unless you happen to have a spare three days to trawl through, get overlooked.

Perfectly happy to take your money, mind.

What an absolute disgrace.

Humanright.com

Some lunatic academic (sorry, another lunatic academic) has declared that access to the internet must rank alongside food, clean water and shelter as a human right, as though living without wi-fi is some kind of torture.

Far from being the Dark Ages, life before the internet was rich in a million forgotten ways. People read books, wrote letters, made eye contact. Now we have Twitter trolls and online porn.

A basic human right? Only if you’re a teenager. Which, given the state of academia these days, is not entirely implausible.

Bill Gates was right in his Mail article yesterday to point out the irony of mothers in poor countries walking miles to get hold of vaccines that many in the West shun. It’s testimony to our pampered existence that we view such vital healthcare as a choice, rather than a privilege.

I feel much the same about Greta Thunberg-inspired ‘school strikes’: there are countless children, many of them young girls, for whom education is an impossible dream. Rejecting it feels like an insult to all those women and girls who, like Malala Yousafzai, risk their very lives to obtain something young people in the West take for granted.

Pictured: Gu 

Medics are warning against the use of hot water bottles after a rise in patients being hospitalised for scalds. 

I sympathise with the injured, but on that basis, you would have to ban pretty much every other domestic item, including kettles, irons and ovens — not to mention my personal favourite, those yummy chocolate fondant puddings from Gu. 

Whatever happened to common sense?

Have you ever noticed how much scientific research these days tends to involve the bleedin’ obvious? 

Take a new study by scientists in America, which found that ‘women who eat a large proportion of their daily calories in the evening have poorer heart health’.

Seriously?

I don’t need a double blind trial to tell me that sitting in front of the telly eating cheese every night is not good for me. I just need to look in the mirror for that.

Pot pourri, that 1980s coffee-table staple, is making a comeback (apparently it’s an eco-friendly alternative to scented candles).

Not in my house it isn’t. 

I still haven’t recovered from the time where I rather distractedly helped myself to what I thought was a handful of posh vegetable crisps at a party, only to find myself crunching my way through several varieties of desiccated flowers.

I spent the rest of the night picking lavender seeds out of my teeth.

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