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Government To End Free Vapes

The Government has announced that it plans to increase education and have dedicated school police liaison officers to keep illegal vapes out of schools

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The Government has announced that it plans to increase education and have dedicated school police liaison officers to keep illegal vapes out of schools. It intends to change the rules around sale of nicotine free vapes and to review the fines for shops selling illicit vapes. It will also close the loophole that currently allows retailers to give free samples of vapes to children.

The announcement to clamp down on youth vaping was made from the office of the Prime Minister today, Tuesday 30 May.

The Government says, “recent NHS figures for 2021 showed that 9% of 11 to 15 year old children used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018.”

This contrasts with last week’s findings from the ASH survey that showed “no significant change since last year in the proportion of children currently smoking (4.8% in 2022 and 3.6% in 2023) or currently vaping (6.9% in 2022 and 7.6% in 2023).”

Selling vapes to under 18s is illegal, “however it is clear from this recent rise in teenage usage of vapes and the recent surge in the use and promotion of cheap, colourful products that businesses are targeting children, which has prompted today’s action to crack down on this.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in kids vaping and shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of school children.

“Our new illicit vape enforcement squad – backed by £3 million – is on the case, but clearly there is more to do. That is why I am taking further action today to clamp down on rogue firms who unlawfully target our children with these products.

“The marketing and the illegal sales of vapes to children is completely unacceptable and I will do everything in my power to end this practice for good.”

Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty added: “Whilst vaping can be an effective quitting tool for smokers, it is important that non-smokers are not encouraged to start vaping. There has been a particularly worrying rise in the number of children using vapes, with companies clearly marketing these products at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options.

“Closing the loophole that allows companies to give out free samples of vaping products to under 18s is a very welcome step in tackling some of the harms caused by the vaping industry.

“We should continue to encourage smokers to swap to vaping as the lesser risk, whilst preventing the marketing and sale of vapes to children.”

Health Minister Neil O’Brien commented: “The shameful marketing of vaping products to children is leading to growing numbers trying e-cigarettes. Today we are therefore ramping up our efforts to stop kids getting hooked on vaping, including taking steps to crack down on companies handing out free vape samples to under 18s and adding lessons on the health risks of vaping within the curriculum for the first time.

“We will also review the rules on issuing on the spot fines to shops that break the law by selling vapes to underage children, and look into banning the sale of nicotine-free vapes to under 18s – which we know can be a gateway to using nicotine products. Alongside this our new specialised ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ will also clamp down on online shops selling illicit vapes to under 18s.

“This builds on action announced last month to protect our children’s health and tackle underage vaping, whilst exploiting the potential of vaping to help adult smokers quit.”

Finally, Gillian Golden, CEO of the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) said: “Selling products to under 18s has been illegal for some years now, as have proxy sales. Those who ignore the law bring reputable retailers who uphold strict age verification protocols into disrepute. We welcome the planned review on bringing nicotine free products under existing rules and we look forward to continuing to support enforcement agencies in tackling illicit trade and illegal products.

“The loophole allowing free samples to be distributed regardless of consumer age is a gap that no self-respecting business should ever have considered exploiting. The IBVTA applauds the announcement that such activity will soon be illegal.

“While it’s concerning that access to vapes by young people on the increase, it’s encouraging to see the Government’s continued recognition of the important role that vaping plays in driving down adult smoking rates”.

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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