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ASH: Increase Disposables’ Regulation

Anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health has called on the Government to implement tougher regulations on disposable vape products

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Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) says that “following increases in youth vaping and amid growing concerns among parents, teachers and local authorities”, it is calling on the Government “to act without delay” to strengthen regulation and fund enforcement. The charity has set out its recommendations in a plan of action.

As a first step”, ASH says, the Government needs to increase “excise tax on single use (disposable) vapes to be implemented in the Budget on March 15th. This would immediately reduce the affordability of these products, which are the most popular vapes with children and can currently be bought for under a fiver.”

It continues: “Adding an excise tax of £4 per disposable vape could bring the price up to the same level as the cheapest re-usable vapes, while still less expensive than cigarettes, which are the most harmful product. This would make disposable vapes significantly less affordable for children, and discourage the use of these environmentally damaging products by adults.”

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH, said: “Smoking is much more harmful than vaping and smoking remains the biggest threat to our children’s health. But vaping is not risk-free, and in the light of the recent increase in children vaping government action is urgently needed to tighten regulation and increase enforcement.

“Children who vape mainly use cheap disposables, which can be bought for under a fiver. They could easily be made less affordable in the March Budget with the introduction of a specific tax for single use disposable vapes. In one simple step this would reduce both child vaping and the vast quantities of single use vapes being thrown into landfill.”

In response to demand from schools, education authorities and parents, ASH says it has worked with Sheffield city council to produce schools resources including a short animated film available here as well as posters, a classroom presentation, teacher’s toolkit and electronic leaflet for parents and carers.

Greg Fell, Director of Public Health in Sheffield said: “Vaping helps adult smokers quit, but if you don’t smoke you shouldn’t start vaping. We need to continue to do our best to stop children smoking, but we don’t want them to start vaping either.

“Sheffield, working with ASH, has produced comprehensive information and advice on how to stop children vaping, in response to demands from parents and teachers. However, while education is important, we need to do more, it's not enough on its own. That is why I urge the government to implement the ASH recommendations for stricter regulation and enforcement of vapes.”

It doesn’t stop there.

The ASH policy brief sets out “a comprehensive approach to reducing youth vaping while not undermining the use of e-cigarettes by adult smokers trying to quit”, which is recommended by health organisations such as NICE, and the Royal College of Physicians.

ASH’s key proposals include:

  • Banning cartoon characters and bright colours on packs.
  • Banning product names or descriptors associated with sweets or sweet names (e.g. gummy bears).
  • Banning design features such as “light up” vapes which can be used in the dark like glow sticks.
  • Better funding for enforcement using MHRA e-cigarette notification fees.
  • Enforced placement of vapes behind the counter.
  • Mandatory age verification in shops for anyone looking under 25.
  • Banning free samples (currently legal to anyone of any age).

John Herriman, CEO, Chartered Trading Standards Institute said: “We fully support the proposals to ensure there is sufficient funding for local Trading Standards teams, to deal with what is an increasingly significant issue, with an explosion in the sale of non-compliant vapes and concerns around their supply to young people.

“Trading Standards plays a critical role both in educating business and enforcing the law. However, right now a wild west exists, where any high street retailer can sell vapes and we are inundated with examples from across the country of retailers routinely breaking the law. This situation cannot continue - we believe the introduction of a registration scheme for businesses selling vapes would help our Trading Standards teams, have a clearer picture of who can legally sell these items in their local area, with clear penalties for anyone breaking the law.”


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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