RIP Kiwi Passionfruit Guava I will miss you forever x
Ministers are considering taking further action on the rising numbers of young people vaping, such as a ban on colourful branding or flavours to deter children from buying disposable vapes.
The government also announced on Tuesday (May 30) that it was closing a loophole in the law that allowed companies to give away free samples to children, in a bid to address the rising numbers of underage vapers. Professor Chris Whitty – who bravely came out as anti-Elf Bar in February – called the decision to close the loophole a “very welcome step”.
While it is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s, national surveys suggest that the proportion of young people aged 11 to 17 who vape has nearly doubled in just two years. The popularity of disposable vapes, such as Elf Bars, has also soared.
Speaking to broadcasters on Tuesday morning while visiting a lab in Kent, Rishi Sunak said the government would be taking the necessary steps to clamp down on retailers marketing vapes to children. “As we have seen here today at this lab, there are a range of products which are clearly not designed for adults. They are designed to appeal to children in the way that they are marketed, promoted, the flavours they use,” he said.
“That’s why at the moment we are asking for people’s views on that, and that may well be one of the steps that we take to change how we regulate the market and promotion of vapes,” he continued. “They shouldn’t be deliberately targeting children, that’s illegal. If we need to take further action to do that, that’s what we will do.”
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the ban on free samples was welcome but a “baby step”. Deborah Arnott, the chief executive of ASH, also called for a prohibition on “branding on vapes appealing to children, such as sweet names and bright colours”.
Speaking to MPs in February, Whitty stressed that we shouldn’t outlaw vaping entirely, and added that e-cigarettes can be a valuable harm-reduction tool (vaping is far safer than smoking cigarettes). “Everyone agrees, I think, that it is far safer for someone to vape than to smoke,” he said. “So if the choice has to be between one of two of those – they’re smoking heavily now, they want to come off smoking, and they can move on to vaping, they can’t just completely stop, then that is a net benefit in health terms.”