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    ASH asks MPs to support £5 excise tax on disposable vapes

    Photo: iStock

    Health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has urged the MPs to call government to account for ‘years of inaction’ on vaping.

    Giving evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee topical session on vaping on Thursday, ASH has set out three recommendations to the government:

    • Put a £5 excise tax on disposable vapes: making them less affordable for children and giving more powers to Border Force and HMRC for preventing illegal vapes flooding into the UK
    • Prohibit branding with appeal to children: no more bright colours, sweet names and cartoon characters
    • Prohibit promotion of e-cigarettes in shops: putting vapes out of sight and out of reach of children.

    “ASH warned the government three years ago about the legislative loophole allowing free vapes to be handed out to children. No action was taken. After our surveys showed the number of children vaping growing year on year, we called again and again for tougher regulation. Still no response. Inaction was understandable during Brexit, then Covid and the ministerial merry-go-round last year, but not any longer” Deborah Arnott, ASH chief executive, said.

    “Recent government announcements that they will be ‘reviewing the rules’ is not good enough, tougher regulation is needed now, it mustn’t be kicked into the long grass yet again.”

    Trading Standards officers have supported the call by ASH for tougher regulation and enhanced enforcement powers for e-cigarettes.

    “At the moment most of the responsibility for enforcing the laws on e-cigarettes rests with trading standards. After funding cuts to local government we have fewer than half the staff we had in 2009, so we just don’t have the resources to deal with the recent explosion in illegal vapes,” Kate Pike, regional co-ordinator, Trading Standards North West and lead officer for vaping for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said.

    “Putting excise taxes on disposable vapes would give Border Force and HMRC more powers to prevent illegal imports and distribution and sale inland. These are powers they already have for tobacco, allowing them to seize over a billion illegal cigarettes last year. We need their help with vapes too, we can’t do it on our own.”

    ASH said tougher regulation of tobacco is also essential to drive down youth vaping. A survey of 35 European countries found that the tougher tobacco regulations are, the lower the youth vaping rates.

    The charity added that its recommendations are based on the most up to date evidence including a detailed analysis of the trends demonstrated by its Smokefree GB youth surveys.

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