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03rd May 2024

Concerns rise as parents seek help over children as young as ten vaping

Sophie Collins


“Calls about vaping showed up for the first time last year, but they have increased markedly this year”

A growing number of parents, worried by the rise of vaping among children as young as 10, are reaching out to national helplines for support. 

According to Parentline, an organisation offering assistance to parents, there has been a significant rise in the number of calls related to vaping and e-cigarettes in recent months.

“More parents have called in the past four months about vapes and e-cigarettes than they did in the past year,” Parentline CEO Aileen Hickie told the Irish Examiner.

Between January and April of this year, Parentline received over 2,000 calls from concerned parents, with 76 specifically addressing the issue of underage vaping. 

This marks a stark increase compared to the 10 calls received during the same period last year.

Hickie emphasised the gravity of the situation and said: “Calls about vaping showed up for the first time last year, but they have increased markedly this year.”

Some parents have expressed a direct correlation between their children’s vaping habits and increased anxiety levels. 

Hickie went on to say: “While we had around 60 calls for the entire year last year, we have already had more than that over a much shorter period.”

Parentline said there has been an  increase in calls related to children’s anxiety, with 256 calls recorded in the first third of the year compared to 129 in the same period last year. 

These anxieties often stem from various sources, including pressures in school and social challenges.

“Most children experience some form of anxiety at some stage in their lives,” Hickie explained. 

“But we are taking calls from parents concerned about trigger points for much more overwhelming anxiety.”

Additionally, the organisation highlighted a concerning trend of children struggling to readjust to school and social environments following the disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Parentline said they are aware of the reported associations between vaping and mental health symptoms, they cannot make definitive claims about a causal link. 

Hickie clarified: “We are not, as an organisation, saying there is a physical link between vapes and increased anxiety. 

“We are just going on what some parents are saying to us and what they believe is a cause of anxiety in their children.”

If you are in need of assistance, Parentline can be contacted Monday to Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm, and on Fridays from 10 am to 7 pm at 01 873 3500.