Politics & Campaigns

Dr Caroline Johnson Speaks

Conservative MP and former Health minister Dr Caroline Johnson has spoken to the BBC about vaping, disposables, and her bid to ban them

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Dr Caroline Johnson has been interviewed by BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rachel Burden, continuing the Breakfast show’s interest in vaping. Again, listeners heard partial facts about teen use and anecdotes over evidence. Dr Johnson is currently pushing a Bill through parliament aimed at banning all forms of disposable vape products.

Opening, Burden said: “We’ve been talking about this for about a year now. We’ve spoken to schools who are saying it’s a problem, we’ve spoken to vape shops who say the regulations don’t work, we’ve spoken to Trading Standards who keep highlighting this is like a Wack-a-Mole and it’s almost impossible for them to keep on top of. We’ve approached political parties to say, ‘there’s a really big issue here’, and got very little back from them.”

I think disposable vapes are a huge problem,” said the architect of a potential ban, Dr Caroline Johnson. “Essentially these vapes were designed as a product to stop people who smoke from smoking, and they’ve become for various reasons more of a lifestyle product and have been taken up by children particularly who’ve never smoked – and that is really not a good thing for them.”

The most recent ASH study found Dr Johnson’s claims simply aren’t true: “Use among 11-17 year olds who have never smoked remains low and largely experimental, while 7.5% of never smokers have tried an e-cigarette in 2022 only 1.7% report at least monthly use.”

Dr Caroline Johnson is either misinformed or she’s lying.

They’re getting addicted to the nicotine and will therefore find them difficult to stop. We know that there are adverse health effects of having too much nicotine and we don’t know what the long-term effect is of many of the flavours that are added,” Johnson continued.

I think there is a huge problem. Also, there’s the environmental impact of disposable vapes because they contain lithium batteries which are being discarded at a rate of over one million per week.”

The mention of flavours ought to be a heads-up to anyone who isn’t concerned about disposables being banned as the language Johnson uses makes it clear that she would consider coming for those next.

I’ve introduced a 10 Minute Rule Bill which would seek to ban the disposable vapes. I think this will reduce their access to children, reduce the ones that you are finding that are not meeting standards, and improve the environment,” she continued.

What Dr Johnson didn’t explain is how banning a legal, regulated market for vape products would prevent all the individuals and companies currently breaking existing laws to continue to break the law in future. If anything, the evidence from all sorts of other bans, from alcohol to drugs, demonstrate that such approaches never work.

Although not part of her Bill, Johnson said that she supports the idea of making shops need to apply for a licence to sell vapes, that would cost money and be removeable if the retailer broke the law.

Do you think the legal disposables market needs addressing? Do you believe this problem is just a case of Trading Standards not receiving adequate funding needed to prevent illicit importation and sales? Why not discuss it on the Planet of the Vapes forum.


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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