The surge in young people vaping in Norfolk has prompted a warning from the leader of the county council - as experts call for the government to ban disposable vapes.

Norfolk County Council officers fear criminal gangs selling vapes on the black market are fuelling an "exponential growth" in their use by children.

It is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, but social media carries posts from teenagers showing vapes and discussing flavours such as pink lemonade, strawberry, banana and mango.

And Trading Standards officers say criminals are supplying some Norfolk shops with illegal vapes, which do not meet safety criteria and are being unlawfully sold to children.

Eastern Daily Press: Norfolk County Council leader Kay Mason BilligNorfolk County Council leader Kay Mason Billig (Image: Norfolk County Council)

Kay Mason Billig, leader of the Conservative-controlled county council said she feared youngsters were damaging their bodies by using the devices.

She said: "I am really, really worried about the prevalence of young people who seem to think this is a trendy thing to do.

"They are taking substances into their bodies and they have got no clue what some of those substances are.

"They cannot obtain them in a legal way, so they are obtaining them off a black market of some sort."

Eastern Daily Press: Illegal vapes seized by Norfolk Trading Standards officersIllegal vapes seized by Norfolk Trading Standards officers (Image: Norfolk Trading Standards)

READ MORE: Thousands of illegal e-cigarettes found at shops in Norfolk

Mrs Mason Billig said she wanted the council to work alongside schools and other organisations to tackle the problem.

She said: "I am hoping this trend will fade like other trends fade, but how much damage will be done in the meantime?"

Paediatricians have called on the government to ban disposable vapes and said longer-term data is needed on the effects of vaping, particularly in regard to cardiovascular disease.

Dr Mike McKean, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: "Youth vaping is fast becoming an epidemic among children, and I fear that if action is not taken, we will find ourselves sleepwalking into a crisis."

Data for Action on Smoking and Health showed a 50pc rise in the last year in Great Britain in the proportion of children trying vaping.