RISING e-cigarette use among young people could cause a new public health problem, according to a council chief.

Blackburn with Darwen borough public health director Dominic Harrison was speaking after Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows adult smoking in the borough has dropped from 27.1 per cent in 2011 to 16.7 per cent in 2017.

And E-cigarettes have increasingly been cited as a reason for the fall in smoking numbers by health and council authorities, as well as an aid to quit smoking.

But Mr Harrison said he was worried about the potential for nicotine addiction from the rising use of the devices, especially in younger people who have never smoked before.

It comes after a survey from campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) showed an increase in youth experimentation with e-cigarettes.

The percentage of respondents in 2018 who have tried an e-cigarette ‘once or twice’ was 12 per cent, an increase from four per cent in 2013.

Mr Harrison said: “I would take a balanced approach to e-cigarettes and say they can play a part in helping people quit smoking.

“However, there has been a rise in e-cigarette use among young people who have never smoked and a rise in nicotine addiction through e-cigarettes locally and nationally.

“So there’s a worry e-cigarette use among young people may cause a new public health problem.”

Mr Harrison said that work on smoke free public spaces and on plain packaging, as well as a crackdown on illegal tobacco sales has contributed to the decrease in the number of adult smokers.

But Victoria Foy, chief operating officer of Lower Darwen vaping firm Vampire Vape, said customers have told them their products help them to quit smoking while she said they are less harmful.

She said: “For some years now our customers have been telling us how vaping Vampire Vape products have helped them to quit smoking.

“Recent publications from bodies such as PHE have served to heighten smokers awareness of how vaping can be a successful way to stop smoking and the demand for our products is increasing.

“At Vampire Vape we pride ourselves in giving smokers an option which relative to smoking is less harmful and which helps them and their families strive towards a healthier lifestyle.

She added: “Feedback from our customers is that they enjoy the varied flavours vaping brings which helps them to quit, with this in mind, Vampire Vape invest a lot of time in developing new products for more consumer choice. “