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    Industry in dismay as Sunak bans disposable vapes

    (Photo: Tolga Akmen - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

    A leading industry body UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) is dismayed at the government’s decision to ban disposable vapes, which have been instrumental in bringing the UK’s smoking rates down to a record low and have played a key role in helping millions of adults quit and stay off cigarettes.

    “While action to prevent youth access to vaping is critical, this move smacks more of a desperate attempt by the government to sacrifice vapers for votes ahead of the upcoming General Election. If the government thinks banning disposables will help protect young people, they are completely misguided. This counterproductive legislation will sooner put children at greater risk by turbo-charging the black market and, in turn, making it easier for them to access illicit and non-compliant vapes.

    “The answer to youth vaping doesn’t lie in counterproductive bans and restrictions, but rather in effective and proactive enforcement – which is woefully lacking – of the law which states that it is illegal for vapes to be sold to minors. It’s why the UKVIA has been part of a major industry-wide consultation over the last couple of months that has led to the development of a vape retailer and distributor licensing scheme to make it harder for the rogue traders to get away with underage and illicit sales. This is being presented to parliamentarians in February and will raise £50m or more to put towards Trading Standards to increase enforcement without any cost to the taxpayer.

    “In the meantime, we will hold the Government to account for the increased smoking rates, as well as the lives and jobs that will be lost, as a result of their shocking and ill thought through decision today,” UKVIA states.

    The announcement comes on the back of new research from University College London, released just last week, which found such a move could discourage the use of vaping as a stop smoking tool and trigger relapse amongst those who have already used disposables to quit, negatively impacting almost two million former and current smokers and setting back the nation’s smokefree 2030 ambitions significantly.

    UKVIA further adds that the ban also hands the regulated vaping market to criminals on a silver platter. It is estimated that in Australia, where vapes are now only available on difficult to obtain prescriptions, as many as 92 per cent of vapers are buying their products through illegal channels and as many as 100 million illicit products are smuggled into the country every year. The leading public health charity Action on Smoking and Health UK has previously warned that children already ‘find it easy’ to access illegal vapes as those selling them have ‘no qualms’ selling to minors.

    Removing disposables will also have huge economic repercussions and significantly impact the financial burden on the NHS, which foots a bill of some £2.4 billion per year currently to treat and care for those with smoking conditions.

    The UKVIA has long called for greater restrictions around flavour names and descriptors and agrees that products and packaging should not feature youth appealing imagery and language, however, a move to plain packaging conflates them with cigarettes and further deters adult smokers from making the switch.

    The government must tread extremely carefully when it comes to flavour restrictions. A recent survey conducted by One Poll found that as many as 1.5 million vapers fear they would return to smoking if flavours were banned and 83 per cent of vapers claim that flavours have helped them ‘pack in their smoking habit’.

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