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General Secretary Patrick Roach Annual Conference 2023 BANNER 1

The NASUWT was pleased that the union’s General Secretary, Dr Patrick Roach, was invited to give evidence at the recent Tobacco and Vapes Bill Committee. The session explored the Bill which is currently progressing through Parliament, taking into account the views of those who represent factions of society affected by tobacco and vaping.

The NASUWT was one of only two representatives from the education sector, which demonstrates the impact our work in this area has had on shaping the debate on this issue. The union has been publicly calling for more action from the Government to tackle youth vaping, including a ban on disposable vapes and tighter restrictions on availability, affordability and appeal of vapes to children and young people.

Dr Patrick Roach shared with the committee the experiences of our members, who have raised significant concerns over the prevalence of vapes in schools among some children as young as 10 years old. He also described how members are increasingly finding the nicotine in vapes can cause children to struggle with concentration and the ability to engage with lessons.

As part of his evidence, Dr Roach told the committee that NASUWT research found that 85% of teachers report vaping is an issue in their school or on school premises. Three-quarters (75%) of teachers stated that vaping has increased in schools over the past year.

Not only are teachers reporting the impact on students’ ability to learn while affected or distracted by vaping, they are also worried about the impact on their broader health. “Teachers are concerned about a child’s wellbeing,” he said. “Teachers are reporting the very damaging impact vaping can have on a child’s mental and physical development.

“That’s one of the reasons we’ve called for – and we’re pleased the Government has responded – a need to do more to strengthen the enforcement of the rules around vaping for school age pupils.”

Further sharing the views of members with regard to vapes, Dr Roach explained: “All of the evidence we have shows that members are telling us the way in which those products are marketed, and the way in which they are described, is deliberately seeking to entice young people to make use of these products.”

The union will be continuing with its work to share the voice of members on this issue, which is affecting many of their day-to-day experiences in the classroom. 


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