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RCPCH welcomes government plans to ban disposable vapes

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has welcomed plans by the government to ban disposable vapes to curb the rise of youth vaping.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) has welcomed plans by the government to ban disposable vapes as recent figures show the number of children using vapes in the past three years has tripled.

The measure comes as part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year.  The 8-week public consultation on Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping, closed on 6 December. Over 25,000 responses were analysed, and the government response sets out plans for upcoming legislation which will be introduced in Parliament shortly.

The RCPCH said it was delighted that the government heard its calls to ban disposable vapes and looks forward to seeing more details about these landmark plans, especially in terms of implementation, enforcement and monitoring.

Dr Mike McKean, Vice President for Policy, added: “Bold action was always needed to curb youth vaping and banning disposables is a meaningful step in the right direction. I’m also extremely pleased to see further much needed restrictions on flavours, packaging and marketing of vapes, which the RCPCH has repeatedly called for.

“As a respiratory consultant it is not lost on me that smoking remains the single biggest cause of preventable illness and disease in the UK. We know this because we have 60 plus years of research and data on cigarette use on a population level. But the research and data around widespread e-cigarette use is still very much in its infancy. The long-term impacts, especially for children and young people, remain unknown. Government must swiftly lay the legislation to ensure it can be fully considered in this Parliament.”

Changes in how vapes are marketed

Disposable vapes have been a key driver behind a rise in youth vaping, with the proportion of 11 to 17 year old vapers using disposables increasing almost ninefold in the last two years.

The government said that new powers will be introduced to restrict flavours which are specifically marketed at children and ensure that manufacturers produce plainer, less visually appealing packaging. The powers will also allow government to change how vapes are displayed in shops, moving them out of sight of children and away from products that appeal to them, like sweets.

To crack down on underage sales, the government will also bring in new fines for shops in England and Wales which sell vapes illegally to children. Trading standards officers will be empowered to act ‘on the spot’ to tackle underage tobacco and vape sales. This builds on a maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose.

There was overwhelming support among responses to the government’s consultation for a disposable vape ban, with nearly 70% of parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and the general public supportive of the measure.

The government added that vapes should only be used by adults as a tool to quit smoking. They contribute to an extra 50,000 to 70,000 smoking quits a year in England.

As part of the government’s Swap to Stop scheme, almost one in five of all adult smokers in England will have access to a vape kit alongside behavioural support to help them quit the habit and improve health outcomes.

Henry Gregg, Director of External Affairs at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “We welcome this robust approach to protecting young people from vaping. Disposable vapes, with their pocket money prices and brightly coloured packaging, have contributed to the increase in under 18s taking up vaping, and we support a well thought-out, properly enforced ban on disposable vapes. Immediate action to restrict flavours, packaging and the display of vapes to reduce their appeal and availability to children and non-smokers is also much needed. If you’re a smoker and you want to quit tobacco, vaping can be a helpful way to give up smoking. But for children and those who don’t smoke, starting to vape isn’t a good idea, especially if you have a lung condition.

“The plan to create a smokefree generation is a landmark decision that really shows the government is putting the health of young people first. It’s one of the most impactful things the government can do to protect future generations from developing lung conditions caused by smoking. Smoking is the biggest cause of lung disease deaths and today’s decision will save thousands of lives. Now these measures must be implemented as quickly as possible, with sufficient funding, to ensure they can be fully enforced.”

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