Disposable e-cigarettes are set to be banned across the UK in a bid to stop children getting hooked on the devices, the Government confirmed today.
The plans are also expected to see vapes restricted to just four flavours, sold in plain packaging and displayed out of sight.
While health chiefs have hailed vapes as a safer alternative to cigarettes and recommend them to help smokers quit, use of them has soared among youngsters.
Top doctors have warned the trend risks a wave of ill health in the future.
Campaigners have blamed eye-catching ads for vapes on social media and flavours, such as strawberry, banana and mango, for luring kids in.
Here, MailOnline sets out all you need to know about the expected ban.
Disposable e-cigarettes are set to be banned across the UK in a bid to stop children getting hooked on the devices, the Government confirmed today
The plans, confirmed by the Prime Minister today (pictured), will also see vapes restricted to four flavours, sold in plain packaging and display them out of children’s sight
Shock data earlier this year revealed a record 11.6 per cent of 11 to 17-year-olds in Britain have now tried vaping. This is up on 7.7 per cent last year and twice as high as rates seen a decade ago, before the UK’s kid vaping epidemic blew up
Why are disposable vapes being banned?
Officials said the ban will tackle youth vaping rates and protect children’s health.
E-cigarettes, which can cost just £3, have become a must-have gadget among kids.
One in five secondary school children now have tried vaping, according to data from the School Health Research Network, released in September.
Kids as young as eight have picked up the habit, according to Trading Standards.
The Government said disposable vapes have been a key driver behind this trend.
They are sold in flavours such as strawberry ice cream, cotton candy and cherry cola, while some brands also feature cartoon characters.
The ban is expected to come into force at the end of 2024 or the start of 2025.
Will a ban work?
Experts have hailed the ‘landmark plans’ as ‘nothing but good news’.
Dr Mike McKean, vice president for policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH), said: ‘Bold action was always needed to curb youth vaping and banning disposables is a meaningful step in the right direction.’
Dame Rachel de Souza, the children’s commissioner for England, said the move will tackle the normalisation of vaping among children.
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: ‘We are committed to doing more to protect our children from illicit underage vaping, and by banning disposable vapes we’re preventing children from becoming hooked for life.’
Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said the products are ‘inherently unsustainable’, ‘blight our streets as litter’ and are difficult to recycle. An outright ban ‘remains the most effective solution to this problem’, he added.
Libby Peake, head of resource policy at Green Alliance, said the ban ‘can’t come soon enough’ to protect future generations’ health and the planet.
‘This bold move by the government is nothing but good news,’ she added.
However, Mr Sunak has faced criticism for his wider smoke-free Britain plans, which would ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.
Former Prime Minister Liz Truss yesterday said the move was ‘profoundly unconservative’.
She said: ‘Banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in 2009 or later will create an absurd situation where adults enjoy different rights based on their birthdate.
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A Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development 2023 health report showed 12.7 per cent of Brits over the age of 15 smoke cigarettes daily, far higher than the US and New Zealand
‘A Conservative government should not be seeking to extend the nanny state.
‘This will only give succour to those who wish to ban further choices of which they don’t approve.’
Former trade minister Sir Edward Leigh also last year said he would vote against the ‘ridiculous’ measure.
Why is the Government acting now?
The proportion of 11 to 17-year-old vapers has surged nine-fold in just two years, leading the Government to take action now before vaping becomes endemic.
Officials hope banning vapes, restricting the flavours they are sold in, introducing plain packaging, forcing shops to display them out of sight children and new on-the-spot fines for retailers that sell vapes to kids will reverse the trend.
It also adds to Mr Sunak’s anti-smoking legacy.
A bill to make Britain smoke-free is expected to be debated in early February.
It would see the legal smoking age rise by one year every year, meaning anyone under the age of 14 today would never be able to legally smoke.
Mr Sunak said: ‘As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic.
‘The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.
‘As Prime Minister I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term. That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise in youth vaping – and bring forward new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops.
‘Alongside our commitment to stop children who turn 15 this year or younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes, these changes will leave a lasting legacy by protecting our children’s health for the long term.’
What are the flavours that vapes can be sold as?
Mr Sunak confirmed that he will bring forward powers to restrict vape flavours.
Officials have not yet confirmed which ones would still be available.
Ministers are thought to be considering tobacco, mint, menthol and fruit but are still considering the knock-on effects this could have for adult smokers turning to vapes to quit cigarettes, The Times reported.
Experts have long warned that sweet and fruit flavoured options, such as strawberry, banana and mango, are appealing to kids.
Will bland packaging also help stop kids vaping?
Vape manufacturers could be forced to sell their products in plain packaging, under the Government’s plans.
Officials said this will make the products ‘less visually appealing’ but the exact details of the rules on packaging have not yet been detailed.
Tests on e-cigarettes confiscated from youngsters found they contained dangerous levels of lead, nickel and chromium. Some were almost ten times above safe limits. Exposure to lead can impair brain development, while the other two metals can trigger blood clotting
NHS Digital data, based on the smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England survey for the year 2021, showed 30 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber have used a vape
As it stands, the products are often sold in bright colours, resembling highlighters, with some even carrying sweets branding and cartoons.
Standardised packaging was fully rolled out for tobacco in the UK in 2017, despite being first suggested in 2008. The policy ordered manufacturers to remove brand images, bright colours and promotions from tobacco products.
Research from the University of Oxford and University of Bath suggest the move reduced smoking rates. However, tobacco manufacturers dispute this.
Dr Mike McKean, of the RCPCH, said he was ‘extremely pleased’ to see restrictions on packaging to help curb youth vaping.
Henry Gregg, director of external affairs at Asthma + Lung UK, said brightly-coloured packaging has contributed to the increase in under-18s taking up vaping.
He said ‘immediate action’ is needed to restrict packaging, which along with rules on flavours and displays in shops, will ‘reduce their appeal and availability to children’.
What else is the Government doing in its vaping crackdown?
As well as banning vapes and placing restrictions on their flavours and packaging, the Government will set out restrictions on where they can be displayed.
Full details of this measure have not been set out but will involving changing ‘how vapes are displayed in shops so they don’t appeal to children’.
They must be placed ‘out of sight of children and away from products that appeal to them like sweets’, under the Government’s proposals.
MailOnline’s expose last spring revealed that shops on Oxford Street were selling imported sweets, such as Blue Raspberry Jolly Ranchers and Sour Apple Laffy Taffy, just metres away from similarly-sounding flavoured vapes, such as Grape Apple, Blue Fruits and Bubblegum.
Other measures aim to clamp down on vapes being sold to children and from illegal varieties entering the UK in the first place.
Trading standards officers will be empowered to issue new on-the-spot fines for retailers that sell vapes to kids, under the vape crackdown. This is on top of the maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose.
Additionally, the Government will give an extra £30million to enforcement agencies – including Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs and Trading Standards – to implement these measures and stamp out opportunities for criminals.
Are vapes safe?
While health chiefs insist that vapes are safer than cigarettes, they are not risk-free.
E-cigarettes contain harmful toxins and their long-term effects remains a mystery.
Some doctors fear a wave of lung disease and even cancer in the coming decades due to vaping.
Experts are also concerned the high nicotine content might increase blood pressure and cause other heart problems.
Freedom of Information requests revealed that 24 children in England were hospitalised due to vaping since the start of 2022. These could include lung damage or a worsening of asthma symptoms.