IN four decades of work in drugs education, with young people, the most important thing they taught me was that they are more likely to believe the myths about the drugs they experiment with or use than anything a teacher, drugs worker, the police or the government tell them.

Today, myths spread faster and further by the young influencers on TikTok and other social media platforms.

I don’t know how myths start, but I know they spread like wildfire, from peer to peer, parent to child, generation to generation, across the country and the world. Myths are powerful, because they reinforce our belief that drugs we use are safe.

Some myths do have some truth in them. For example, the smoking myth that says: “If you smoke when you are pregnant, you could have a smaller baby, and a less painful birth.”

This myth ignores the fact that low birth-weight from smoking is detrimental to the baby. This will no doubt become a vaping myth too. The myth that “you can drive better when using cannabis, because cannabis relaxes you” is highly dangerous. Cannabis is a hallucinogen, which alters our perception of reality, and is both illegal and results in a dangerous state of mind in which to drive.

The National: EMBARGOED TO 0001 TUESDAY JUNE 6..File photo dated 21/02/2020 of a man exhaling whilst using a vaping product. Paediatricians are calling on the Scottish Government to ban disposable vapes, with ministers being told it is time to tackle the "true

Single-use vaping is the latest trend in drugs used by children. Finding and addressing the powerful misinformation that is in myths is essential if we are to slow down the spread of nicotine addiction in children. If parents ask their children what they think about vaping, they will very quickly learn how powerful drugs myths are.

Here are three examples of vaping myths revealed to me by children.

Myth 1: The nicotine in vaping is different, and not addictive.

Wrong – nicotine is nicotine, how addictive it is only changes with the amount you use or the strength of the nicotine in a vape.

Nicotine is a mild stimulant and is highly addictive. Stimulant drugs speed up our hearts, make us hyper and high, but minutes later dump us back down and we hit a low. We don’t enjoy that state, so we seek more nicotine to get us high again. Soon we build up a tolerance to nicotine and crave for more.

That’s how we get caught in what I call “the addictive circle” – the ups and downs of nicotine addiction. Over 400 years, nicotine in cigarettes addicted billions of people. There has been 7000 different chemicals and gasses added to the different brands of cigarettes, to attract different smokers. These additional substances and especially the tar that clogs the lungs are what caused deaths from cancer. In time, the one in three children that vape who become smokers will suffer serious health problems.

Myth 2: The nicotine in vapes calms you down.

In this myth, we see a tiny bit of truth, because what is calmed down is our nicotine addiction, but only for a few minutes. Then the stimulant effect – the high wears off, so we get relief from our craving for nicotine. Then when you add more nicotine into your lungs, you feel calm again. However, if you hadn’t been using nicotine in the first place, you would not have needed to spend you money on getting more nicotine.

Myth 3: They wouldn’t be allowed to sell vaping products if they were dangerous.

Now this is a powerful myth. Because it highlights the utter confusion in the minds of children and adults about our crazy drugs laws.

Did you know that you can smoke at any age – the law only says that you cannot buy cigarettes and vaping products until you are 18? It does not say you cannot consume or use vaping products.

The law on tobacco sales says that you need a license and have to abide by the strict rules that come with that. Believe it or not but there is no license required to sell vaping products – only to age restrict this to 18.

This has not stopped the vaping industry from giving vapes away free to children. Vapes are being sold in corner shops, garages, DIY shops, smart-looking vaping shops, gardening centres, supermarkets and even in bakeries. Retailers of vapes have no training in how dangerous nicotine addiction is. There are now so few Trading Standards officers that it is almost impossible to police this.

To protect our children, we urgently need to change our vaping laws. The Scottish Government is working hard to urgently introduce legislation, but all drug laws are under the control of the Westminster Parliament, who have consistently shown that they have no intention of amending these laws.

This is why I am urging parents to support my petition to ban all single-use vaping products completely.
Max Cruickshank