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    Government moots restrictions on disposable vape sales, vape flavours and retail display

    Photo: iStock

    The government has on Thursday launched a public consultation on youth vaping, proposing restrictions on the sale of disposable vapes, ‘child-friendly’ vape flavours and packaging and the display in retail outlets.

    The disposable vape restrictions include a proposal for prohibiting their sale and supply.

    Part of measures to clamp down on vapes being promoted to children, the consultation follows prime minister Rishi Sunak’s speech at the Conservative Party conference early this month, where he vowed to introduce legislation to reduce tobacco use and bring in measures to restrict young people vaping.

    The consultation, which would be open for eight weeks, also proposes to make it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products. Products that would be in scope of the change also include heated tobacco products, which is considered as a smokefree product as they heat tobacco instead of burning it, producing a nicotine-containing aerosol that is fundamentally different from cigarette smoke.

    “Last week I promised to create the first smokefree generation and I am wasting no time to deliver on that promise,” Sunak said.

    “Our ambitious plans will reverse the worrying rise in youth vaping while protecting our children from the dangerous long-term effects of smoking as quickly as possible.”

    Proposals being consulted on include:

    • Making it an offence for anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 to be sold tobacco products
    • Restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes so that vape flavours are no longer targeted at children
    • Regulating point of sale displays in retail outlets so that vapes are kept out of sight from children and away from products that appeal to them, such as sweets
    • Regulating vape packaging and product presentation, ensuring that neither the device nor its packaging is targeted to children
    • Considering restricting the sale of disposable vapes, including a ban on sales and supply.
    • Exploring further restrictions for non-nicotine vapes and other nicotine consumer products such as nicotine pouches
    • Exploring whether increasing the price of vapes will reduce the number of young people using them
    • Introducing new powers for local authorities to issue on-the-spot fines (Fixed Penalty Notices) to enforce age of sale legislation of tobacco products and vapes

    “There has been a surge in vaping amongst children, which is why we’re taking action to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes. Vapes should never be used by children and we’re committed to reversing this trend,” Steve Barclay, health and social care secretary, said.

    Selling vapes to children is already illegal, but recent figures show the number of children using vapes in the past three years has tripled, with 20.5 per cent of children aged between 11 and 17 having tried vaping in 2023, according to Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).

    The consultation has the backing of the Welsh government, Scottish government, and the Northern Ireland Department of Health, all agreeing to a joint consultation. 

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