Disposable vapes are set to be banned as part of plans to tackle the rising number of young people taking up vaping, the government says. Measures will also be introduced to prevent vapes being marketed at children and to target under-age sales.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suggested adult smokers trying to quit would still have access to alternatives like vapes under the proposals. The ban is expected to be introduced across the UK, the government said.
It is already illegal to sell any vape to anyone under 18, but disposable vapes – often sold in smaller, more colourful packaging than refillable ones – are a “key driver behind the alarming rise in youth vaping”, according to the government.
Figures from the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity suggest 7.6% of 11 to 17-year-olds now vape regularly or occasionally, up from 4.1% in 2020.
Announcing the plans on Monday, Mr Sunak said it was right that “strong action” was taken to stamp out vaping in children. Children shouldn’t be vaping, we don’t want them to get addicted, we still don’t understand the full long-term health impacts,” he said.
The UK Vaping Industry Association said vapes had helped “millions of adults quit and stay off cigarettes”, and said the proposals would put children at risk by “turbocharging the black market”.
Mr Sunak suggested the proposals struck the right balance between restricting access for children and maintaining access for adult smokers trying to quit smoking.
Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, but it has not been around for long enough for its long-term risks to be known, according to the NHS.The vapour that is inhaled can still contain small amounts of chemicals that are found in cigarettes, including nicotine – which is addictive but not seen by the health service as one of the most problematic ingredients in cigarettes.
The proposals follow last year’s announcement of a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 as part of an attempt to create a “smoke-free generation”. Former prime minister Liz Truss criticised the proposed ban, describing it as “profoundly unconservative”.