The autumn term will see schools in West Sussex able to access a number of resources to help them tackle the issue of vaping among youngsters.

The news was shared during a meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board where members discussed the impact of vaping on health and the environment.

Alison Challenger, director of public health, said that, from September, the schools will be able to use resources developed the the South East Tobacco Control Network  and the Department of Health & Social Care, the latter of which are aimed at Years 7 and 8 and include films about the issues of vaping.

She added: “We are all joined in wanting to reduce exposure of vaping to our young people and we are working with members of our community and our health and care system and working nationally and regionally to try to understand what we need to do as regards that.

“Then there’s the environmental consideration as well.

“We’re also working with our Trading Standards colleagues to understand the local issue and to prioritise and focus some of the work there.”

The county’s Trading Standards team has given many a warning to traders who sell disposable vapes to children and has also prosecuted those who sell illegal vapes containing nicotine levels far higher than the UK’s legal limit.

Bob Lanzer, chairman of the board, said: “It’s a national issue but we have our fair share of it within West Sussex.

“I would observe that the lack of intervention at the moment across the country has probably afforded something of an arena for unscrupulous behaviour and unscrupulous practices by some organisations and some people.

“What we see is the presence of illegal concentrations in disposable vapes – also illegal active ingredients present in disposable vapes.”

The Local Government Association recently called for a ban on disposable vapes – but that approach has been questioned as they are a useful tool for those trying to quit smoking.

Mr Lanzer added: “Clearly it’s unacceptable to be targeting disposable vapes at children – and some of that still goes on.

“The environmental aspect is particularly important.

“There’s an estimate going around that only 50 per cent of disposable vapes are offered up for recycling – and of course they have a battery which contains lithium, so there’s a further impact through that as well.”

Catherine Howe, Chief Executive of Adur and Worthing Councils, suggested linking the two problems – the environment and under-age vaping.

She pointed out that youngsters tend to be highly aware when it comes to climate issues so perhaps approaching them from that angle may persuade them to not buy disposable vapes.

“There’s a really great point of entry there which is actually ‘disposable vapes – forget about what they’re doing to you – that’s your choice – but actually these are terrible for the environment’.”

By Karen Dunn, Local Democracy Reporter