The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has urged the government for ‘proportionate and targeted’ regulation that does not adversely impact public health amid media reports of an imminent government policy update on vaping.
According to reports, the government is considering a ban on some flavoured vapes to discourage children from vaping.
John Dunne, director general of the UKVIA, said the trade association welcomes the government efforts to crack down on youth access to vaping products.
“We have been calling for this for some time and earlier this week we launched a set of proposals for UK government to support such an initiative, including stronger fines for retailers who sell to children (up from £2,500 to £10,000) and a compulsory registration scheme for retailers who sell vaping products,” he said.
“We welcome pragmatic actions from the government that stop vape devices getting into the wrong hands, but we also urge that regulation is proportionate and targeted so that it does not impact adversely on the public health prize that vaping represents for adult smokers.”
He noted that early results from newly commissioned research, to be published in April 2023, show clearly that flavours play a critical role in helping smokers quit, with many saying a ban would lead them to return to smoking.
Smokers’ rights campaigners have also flayed the reported plans to ban flavoured vapes, saying it would be a “massive own goal”.
Alongside a nationwide retailer registration scheme, where retailers would risk being deregistered if they were found to be selling to minors, Dunne proposed a national test purchasing scheme, where retailers would be subject to ongoing monitoring to ensure that they were not breaking the age regulations on the sale of vape products.
“Our position is very clear – no one under the age of 18 should be using a vape device. Specifically regarding packaging and flavours we called on government to set clear standards for e-liquid, flavour names and flavour descriptors on sale back in 2021,” he added.
“Our guidelines focus on limiting references to youth culture, removing imagery and descriptors which may be misleading, explicitly banning cartoons and youth-appealing iconography, and proportionately restricting flavour names/descriptors that may disproportionately appeal to underage users.
Dunne has also urged the government to review the position on nicotine free e-liquids which are currently legal to sell to those below 18.
“This is nonsensical when future policy is looking to safeguard against vapes being sold to minors and also needs to be urgently addressed by government,” he said.