By John Ensor •
Updated: 29 Jan 2024 • 20:35
Image of vaping devices.
A worrying UK trend has led the government to make the bold decision to ban disposable vapes.
In a decisive move, the UK government will announce the prohibition of disposable vapes on Monday, 29 January, during Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s visit to a school.
This bold step is part of a comprehensive strategy to address the worrying surge in vaping among young people and safeguard children’s health.
Recent statistics reveal a troubling trend in which vaping among children has tripled in the past three years. Particularly alarming are figures which show that 9 per cent of 11 to 15-year-olds are now using vapes.
The long-term health effects of vaping remain uncertain, and the addictive nature of nicotine poses significant risks, including anxiety and concentration issues during withdrawal. Although vaping aids adults in quitting smoking, its use by children is strongly discouraged.
Disposable vapes have significantly contributed to the spike in youth vaping, with their use by 11 to 17-year-olds soaring nearly ninefold in just two years.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak commented: ‘The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.
‘As Prime Minister I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term. That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise in youth vaping – and bring forward new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops.’
The government’s response includes introducing new regulations to limit child-targeted vape flavours and ensure than manufacturers introduce plainer less visually appealing packaging.
Additionally, it will reposition vapes in shops, distancing them from children’s view and away from appealing products like sweets.
Shops in England and Wales will face stiffer fines for illicit vape sales to children, complemented by on-the-spot enforcement by trading standards officers. This builds an existing maximum fine of £2,500 by local authorities.
In tandem, the government will outlaw nicotine alternatives like nicotine pouches, which have become popular among children.
These measures are part of the UK’s commitment to creating the first smokefree generation, with a new law banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.
Beyond health concerns, the ban is expected to positively impact the environment. Approximately five million disposable vapes are discarded weekly, equating to the lithium batteries of 5,000 electric vehicles annually.
‘Not only are disposable vapes often targeted, unacceptably, at children – they also represent a huge and growing stream of hard-to-recycle waste, with nearly five million thrown away every week,’ stated Environment Secretary Steve Barclay.
The decision has garnered widespread support. Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins remarked, ‘Smoking is still the single largest preventable cause of death in England. Almost every minute of every day someone is admitted to hospital with a smoking-related disease. And its costs society £17 billion each year – putting a huge burden on our NHS.
‘That’s why we are driving the way forward through our smoke-free generation plan, which will prevent our children from starting this dangerous habit.
‘The health advice is clear, vapes should only ever be used as a tool to quit smoking. But we are committed to doing more to protect our children from illicit underage vaping, and by banning disposable vapes we’re preventing children from becoming hooked for life.’
Health Minister Andrea Leadsom emphasized, ‘We are in the midst of a worrying rise in young people vaping. I want to stop youth vaping in its tracks – and a ban on disposable vapes is central to that.’
To reinforce these efforts, £30 million will be allocated annually to enforcement agencies like Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), and Trading Standards.
This funding aims to effectively implement these measures and curb criminal opportunities in the tobacco trade, which costs the UK economy an estimated £2.8 billion in lost revenue yearly.
This historic decision follows a 10-week public consultation on creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping. Over 25,000 responses were analysed, laying the groundwork for upcoming legislation to be introduced in Parliament soon.
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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