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    Government’s approach to vape restrictions ‘highly irresponsible’, UKVIA says

    Photo: iStock

    The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has on Wednesday said the government’s approach to vape restrictions is highly irresponsible as it has not quantified the health impacts of fewer people using vapes to quit smoking.

    As the House of Commons started its debate on the Tobacco and Vapes Bill on Tuesday, the industry body noted that for every adult vaper who returns to smoking because of government restrictions, there is a chance of another death from smoking, reversing the trend away from smoking for which significant credit goes to vaping.

    The bill, which seeks to clamp down on young people vaping by restricting flavours and packaging, passed a vote in the Commons with 383 in favour and 67 against, meaning it will progress to the next stage in parliament, where it can be subject to amendment.

    The legislation also aims to prevent children born since 2009 from ever being able to legally buy tobacco.

    “It is currently illegal to sell vapes to children. Rather than introducing restrictions that will undermine the public health benefits of vaping, we need to focus on (and properly enforce) the law we already have,” the UKVIA said in a statement.

    “If the government were prepared to listen to the vaping industry they would have heard our calls over many years, for a licensing scheme for vape distributors and shops. The industry has a licensing framework ready to go, which would not only tackle rogue retailers who are selling vapes to children, it would raise £50m that would allow trading standards to police the law effectively.”

    The UKVIA refuted the charges that the industry has proposed the licensing scheme to slow down the passing of the bill, noting that they have been proposing this scheme for years before the bill was introduced.

    “It’s about ensuring we don’t walk blindly into a public health catastrophe characterised by smokers giving up on the idea of vaping, vapers returning to smoking and U18s exposed to significant risk of harm posed by the predicted rise in the black market as a result of the proposed disposables vape ban from April 2025,” the statement added.

    The organisation highlighted that the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities, the government agency within the Department of Health and Social Care, which sponsors the Tobacco & Vapes Bill, continues to restate that vapes are at least 95% less harmful.

    It added that restricting vape flavours, packaging and point-of-sale would be treating vapes like cigarettes, and as already 40 per cent of people think vapes are as bad for you as cigarettes, this would lead to less smokers quitting.

    “Last year a study amongst vapers conducted by market research company One Poll revealed that 83 per cent of vapers said that flavoured vapes had helped them pack in their smoking habits. It also revealed that one in three feared a ban on flavours will lead them back to smoking, representing some 1.5 million vapers,” the statement said.

    Finally the impact on the black market for vapes should be of huge concern to the government, but it appears to be quite the opposite, the UKVIA observed.

    “The government’s £30 million annual enforcement top-up is rightly criticised for being totally inadequate. Annually, £20m will be swallowed up in supporting HMRC and Border Force’s new illicit tobacco strategy, leaving just £10 million in remaining extra funding, which split between England’s 317 local authorities, is far from an adequate solution,” it said.

    “Furthermore, Professor Nick Hopkinson of Imperial College London said Trading Standards budgets have been ‘cut by £200 million since 2010’ – so £10m a year is not really comparable.”

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