Politics & Campaigns


Parliament heard calls to ban disposables, to make vapes more expensive, to ban vaping in public places and cars, and to make all vape products have plain packaging

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Dr Caroline Johnson wants the Prime Minister to meet with her and support her push to ban disposable vapes. Labour’s Rachael Maskell wants the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to push for higher taxes on vape products, a vape ban in public places and cars, and introducing plain packaging.

Sleaford and North Hykeham’s Dr Caroline Johnson noted that vapes “were introduced as stop-smoking devices”, but “remarkably cheap, brightly coloured vapes, with flavours such as unicorn milkshake, bubble-gum and green gummy bear, have proven remarkably attractive to children”.


She repeated the fiction, completely debunked by the ASH research we covered on Monday, that vapes hook kids “to a lifetime of potentially harmful nicotine addiction.”

She asked for a meeting with the Prime Minister and urged him to support a cross-departmental approach and support for her ten-minute rule Bill to ban disposable vapes.

Rishi Sunak “commended” her efforts and said, “I absolutely recognise the concern that she raises, both on the environmental impact of disposable vapes and on their appeal to children.

He continued: “The Department of Health and Social Care has announced a call for evidence to look at reducing youth vaping, including on vape appearance, flavours and marketing. We have also been clear that all electrical waste should be disposed of properly, and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is looking actively at what changes in legislation might be needed to ensure that the vaping sector foots the bill for the collection and treatment of its used products.”

This Government, keen to appeal to everyone in the build-up to an election, appears to be wobbling on tobacco harm reduction. The wobble is mirrored across the House, and York Central’s Rachael Maskell was equally at odds with the evidence.

She asked the Secretary of State for Health if discussions have been held with the Chancellor of the Exchequer with a view to increasing VAT on vaping devices, “to help prevent their use by children.”

The ASH research this week shows a stagnant level of use by teens. While no justification to be complacent, the evidence clearly demonstrates there is no need for hysteria.

Neil O'Brien, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care responded: “I have had discussions with the Exchequer Secretary to discuss vaping policy and regulation, including issues related to youth vaping. Following these discussions, we launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce youth vaping. The call for evidence will examine a range of issues, including those related to the vaping market. Once this closes on 6 June 2023, the Government will assess a range of options based on the evidence provided, including potential future changes to vaping policy and regulation.”

Maskell followed up by asking for the Government to support programmes to help young people quit vaping – offering no evidence of need.

Then she demanded a ban on vaping in public places and cars carrying children. The former defies any kind of logic as it would prevent smokers from easily switching and the latter has already been demonstrated as a complete failure when smoking was banned in cars. On top of that, vaping poses no secondhand harm according to Public Health England/ UK Health Security Agency.

Finally, Maskell urged the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to impose plain packaging requirements on vaping products. Again, caring little for associating vaping with the act of smoking and such measure carrying unintended consequences.

Neil O'Brien pointed out the government has published new content on the potential risks of vaping for young people on the FRANK and Better Health websites, “and we have provided input to educational resources produced by partners including the PSHE Association.”

He said they are “developing a new resource pack for schools on vaping which will be made available by July. Our new national swap to stop programme, launched on 11 April, will also provide support to people who want to quit vaping.”

Regarding the ridiculous ban call, he added: “The Government has no plans to ban vaping in public enclosed places, nor to ban vaping in cars carrying children. In 2016, the Government published guidance to inform evidence-based policy making on vaping in public places.”

Regarding plain packaging,” O'Brien continued, “our recently launched youth vaping call for evidence explores issues related to the appearance of vaping products. Once this closes on 6 June 2023, the Government will assess a range of options based on the evidence provided, including potential future changes to vaping policy and regulation.”

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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