Health experts want a crackdown on underage vaping after it emerged 18% of 15-year-olds are now smoking e-cigarettes.
Use among girls aged 15 in England surged from 10% in 2018 to 21% last year, an NHS Digital study found.
The Smoking, Drinking and Drug Use Among Young People report also shows 9% of 11 to 15s vaped either regularly or occasionally in 2021 – up from 6% in 2018.
The NHS has promoted e-cigs, which people must be 18 to buy, as a quitting aid for tobacco but little is known about their long-term health risks.
Many secondary pupils get them from older pals or relatives but 57% reported buying them in shops last year – up from 29% in 2018.
Hazel Cheese-man, of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “We must find a balanced approach to addressing risks from youth vaping while supporting adult smokers to switch.
A good place to start is enforcing existing laws.
“When we have a sale age of 18, something has gone wrong. Trading Standards teams need investment to help address this problem.”
Ann McNeill, professor of tobacco addiction at King’s College London and author of a Government evidence review of e-cigs, said, “The rise in youth vaping is con-cerning. We need to understand what lies behind it.”
The Department of Health said: “We are clear vaping should only be used to help quit smoking – vapes should not be used by people under 18 or non-smokers.”