The government has announced measures to outlaw disposable vapes in an effort to address the increasing number of young people who are starting to vape.
Efforts will also be made to curb sales to minors and stop the marketing of vapes to youngsters.
Under the plans, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said, adults who are attempting to stop smoking will still have access to options like vapes.
The UK government has said that the ban would likely be implemented nationwide.
A “key driver behind the alarming rise in youth vaping” is disposable vapes, which are marketed in smaller, more colorful packaging than refillable ones. The government has already made it illegal to sell any vape to anybody under 18, but these devices are especially problematic because of this.
The percentage of 11–17 year olds who vape on a regular or sometimes basis has increased from 4.1% in 2020 to 7.6%, according to data from the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) organization.
Mr. Sunak, who announced the measures on Monday, defended the need to take “strong action” to prevent youth vaping.
“Children shouldn’t be vaping, we don’t want them to get addicted, we still don’t understand the full long-term health impacts,” according to him.
In response to the plans, the UK Vaping Industry Association said that vapes have assisted “millions of adults quit and stay off cigarettes” and that the illicit market would be “turbocharging” due to the increased danger to minors.
According to Mr. Sunak, the plans were well-balanced as they would limit access for minors while still allowing adults who are attempting to stop to use them.
The National Health Service (NHS) states that while vaping is much safer than smoking, the hazards associated with it in the long run are unknown because of how recently it has been available.
Even if the health service does not consider nicotine to be one of the most harmful components of cigarettes, breathed vapour may still include trace levels of nicotine and other compounds contained in cigarettes.
The announcement last year of a prohibition on selling cigarettes to anybody born on or after 1 January 2009 in an effort to establish a “smoke-free generation” was followed by these measures this year.
Liz Truss, a former prime minister, called the planned ban “profoundly unconservative” in her criticism.
The health secretary, Victoria Atkins, expressed her confidence to the BBC that the new vaping law would be passed before the general election, which is anticipated to take place this year. She said that the measure will enter into effect in early 2025.
Retailers will have six months to put it into action when the date is set
Although he voiced his support for a ban on disposable vapes, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticized the government for what he saw as a two-year delay in implementing the measure. Current environmental protection laws might be used to introduce the measure.
Disposable e-cigarettes have been the target of environmentalists’ complaints about their chemical composition and the difficulty in disposing of their lithium batteries, among other components, for some time.
The most recent amendments would also mandate less visually attractive packaging for refillable vapes and prohibit their sale in flavors targeted towards youngsters.
Additionally, the government may require stores to keep refillable vapes out of the reach of minors and in a separate area from other things kids could purchase, like as candy.
In order to determine which flavors should be prohibited and how refillable vapes will be marketed, the government has announced that they will conduct more public consultations.
Shops in England and Wales that are found selling vapes to minors unlawfully may face increased penalties as a means to combat underage sales.
To prevent students from being “bombarded” with “attractive” things on social media and in stores, Glyn Potts, head teacher of Oldham’s Newham Catholic College, called for action.
In addition, he said on the Today program of BBC Radio 4 that there was proof that certain vape pens had been modified to include “cannabis derivatives” that he asserted might put young people in the hospital.
Additionally, children will not be allowed to use nicotine pouches or any other alternative vaping device, including the little white pouches that fit between the gums and the lips. You may lawfully sell these pouches to under-18s since they emit nicotine but do not contain tobacco.
Governments in Scotland and Wales have both indicated their intention to impose prohibitions, either via domestic law or by lending their support to measures enacted on a national level in the United Kingdom.
The Department of Health in Northern Ireland said that becoming tobacco-free had been “a long-standing strategic aim” and that it would prepare to enable new ministers to make a decision on the prohibition. However, the region is still without a devolved government due to a breakdown in power sharing.
The United Kingdom is considering banning disposable vapes, joining a handful of other nations in this move. Similar plans have been proposed by Australia, France, Germany, and New Zealand; however, only New Zealand has put them into action so far.
Some may say the UK isn’t doing enough with its current plans. While some have proposed a tobacco-level tax on electronic cigarettes, others have pointed out that vapes can only be obtained with a doctor’s prescription in Australia.
“Final ditch effort”
Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health president Dr. Camilla Kingdon said that a “smoke-free generation” would lessen the likelihood that young people would suffer from avoidable ailments down the road.
However, the UK Vaping Industry Association expressed its disappointment with the news, saying that disposable vapes have been important in helping millions of individuals kick the habit.
It said that the present regulations should be more strictly enforced and criticized the plans as an effort to get votes at the expense of vapers, which would increase the danger of harm to youngsters by fueling the underground market.
The country’s leading vape maker, Elf Bar, along with its sister brand Lost Mary, expressed sadness “with the outright ban” but acknowledged the government’s desire to prevent youth vaping.
More restrictions on “importation, appeal, and access” would “more effectively reduce under-age use,” according to the British division of British American Tobacco, the third-biggest participant in the cartridge business.
According to Trading Standards authorities, more time and money are required to assist in the fight against dishonest merchants.
The government promised a £30 million package to enhance enforcement in October, and local authorities have the power to issue fines up to £2,500.