Government Announces Ban on Disposable Vapes to Curb Rising Youth Vaping Rates

London – The government of the United Kingdom has announced plans to ban disposable vapes in an effort to combat the growing number of young people vaping. The ban will be accompanied by measures to prevent the marketing of vapes to children and target underage sales. Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity reports that the percentage of 11 to 17-year-olds who vape regularly or occasionally has risen to 7.6%, up from 4.1% in 2020. The ban is expected to be implemented throughout the UK. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is scheduled to outline the plans during a visit to a school on Monday.

Prime Minister Sunak expressed concern over the rising trend of vaping among children and emphasized the need for swift action. To create a “smoke-free generation,” last year the government announced a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009. Although it is already illegal to sell vapes to anyone under 18, disposable vapes, often packaged more attractively than refillable ones, are seen as a “key driver” behind the surge in youth vaping.

Vaping is considered to be less harmful than smoking, but its long-term risks are not yet fully understood. While the vapor from vapes can contain small amounts of chemicals found in cigarettes, including addictive nicotine, it is not considered to be as problematic as other cigarette ingredients by the National Health Service.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins expressed confidence that the new legislation would pass Parliament and come into effect in early 2025. Once the timing is confirmed, retailers will have six months to comply. The ban could be introduced using existing legislation designed to protect the environment.

The ban on disposable vapes has been welcomed by educators who have witnessed vaping become a significant part of youth culture. However, there are calls for action to address the promotion of vaping products on social media and in shops, as well as the repurposing of vape pens to contain cannabis derivatives. In addition to disposable vapes, the new measures will also prohibit the sale of nicotine pouches to children. The government will be cautious about not impeding adult smokers who switch to vaping for harm reduction purposes.

It should be noted that the UK is not alone in its effort to ban disposable vapes. Australia, France, Germany, and New Zealand have all announced similar plans, with New Zealand being the only country to have implemented the ban thus far. Some argue that the UK’s proposed measures still do not go far enough, suggesting a tax on e-cigarettes or Australia’s prescription-only access to vapes.

While the UK Vaping Industry Association acknowledges the need to prevent underage access to vapes, it criticizes the outright ban, arguing that it will increase the availability of illicit vapes and play into the hands of the black market. Other stakeholders, including organizations such as Ash and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, support the government’s strategy to reduce smoking initiation and protect children from harm.

In conclusion, the UK government’s plan to ban disposable vapes reflects its determination to tackle the rise of youth vaping. The ban, alongside measures to prevent marketing to children and target underage sales, is part of a broader effort to create a smoke-free generation. Although some argue that the measures should be more extensive, the ban aligns the UK with other countries taking similar steps. The aim is to strike a balance between protecting children from vaping and ensuring that adult smokers have access to a harm reduction alternative.