Politics & Campaigns

Government Calls For Teen Evidence

As part of its broadly welcomed changes to its approach to vaping, the UK Government has called for evidence about teen vaping and how best to combat it

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As part of its broadly welcomed changes to its approach to vaping, the UK Government has called for evidence about teen vaping and how best to combat it. It says the call for evidence is seeking “information on a range of themes about children and vaping (using an e-cigarette) to inform evidence-based policy decisions.”

The Government says: “Vaping is an important tool to help the government achieve its ambition for England to be smokefree by 2030. This is because vaping is one of the most effective ways to help people quit smoking.

“A recent Cochrane systematic review found with ‘high certainty’ that vapes were more effective than nicotine replacement therapy. Ensuring vaping devices can continue to be made available to current smokers is vital to reducing smoking rates, and their use contributes to an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 additional fewer smokers per year.

“However, vapes are not risk free. There is well established concern about the harms from vaping, specifically associated with younger people, as outlined in the Nicotine vaping in England report.

Evidence is being sought from experts for the following themes:

  1. Building regulatory compliance: ensuring only adult smokers can access legally compliant vape products.
  2. The appeal of vape products: how the appearance and product characteristics of vapes may attract children.
  3. Marketing and promotion of vape products: how the marketing and promotion of vapes may attract children.
  4. The role of social media: the impact of social media on the uptake and use of vaping by children.
  5. Effective educational approaches to prevent the uptake of vaping by children.
  6. The impact of vapes on the environment, particularly disposable products.
  7. Understanding the vape market.

The Government is being swayed by the growing number of voices citing the 2022 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) survey report Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain.

It says the survey showed a “sharp increase in vaping among 11 to 17 year olds”.

While the report did show that the number of regular vapers has climbed from 4% to 7%, everyone making noise about teen vaping ignores ASH’s other findings, including: “A large majority of 11-17 year olds have never tried or are unaware of e-cigarettes (83.8%)”.

Also, importantly, ASH also stated: “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.”

What could happen?

There are three steps the Government is likely to consider.

The first would be a closing of the loophole whereby free samples can be given to anybody including children. Few would argue against such a measure.

They are also looking at “restricting packaging images and descriptions” as some claim these are used to appeal to children. While the prospect of plain packaging wouldn’t impact the vape experience, it could prevent adult smokers switching by making vaping appear as dangerous as smoking if it is treated the same.

The final step being considered is the most threatening measure, that of banning certain flavours for their claimed ‘kid friendly’ appeal. This is the route the EU is taking in its next Tobacco Products Directive iteration.

You can submit your response at the Department of Health and Social Care’s website: https://consultations.dhsc.gov.uk/6405fea4a9e9b490c90434c9

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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