Government confirms UK-wide disposable vapes ban

The government is to introduce new powers that ban disposable vapes in the UK, restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging, and change how vapes are displayed in shops.

The measures comes as part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year.

The new powers will 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.

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.

Vaping alternatives – such as nicotine pouches – will also be outlawed for children who are increasingly turning to these highly addictive substitutes.

The government intends these measures to be taken forward in secondary legislation which will be subject to further consultation. The government has also noted that there is a strong case to take action to reduce the affordability of vapes and is continuing to consider options, including a new duty, to achieve this.

In addition, the government has again reiterated its commitment to bring about the first smokefree generation and introduce legislation so children turning fifteen this year or younger can never legally be sold tobacco.

To help ensure the success of the smokefree generation plan, £30m new funding a year will be provided to bolster enforcement agencies – including Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Trading Standards – to implement these measures and stamp out opportunities for criminals.

HMRC and Border Force will publish a new Illicit Tobacco Strategy, ‘Stubbing Out the Problem’, which:

  • sets out their continued commitment to reduce the trade in illicit tobacco, with a focus on reducing demand, and to tackle and disrupt organised crime behind the illicit tobacco trade.
  • highlights the cost to the UK in lost tax revenue and the burden to taxpayers, the undercutting of law-abiding businesses, and the funding of wider organised crime through illicit tobacco sales.

Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.

“As Prime Minister I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term. That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise in youth vaping – and bring forward new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops.

“Alongside our commitment to stop children who turn 15 this year or younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes, these changes will leave a lasting legacy by protecting our children’s health for the long term.”

In response, Muntazir Dipoti, the National President of the NFRN, said that while the trade body agrees that action is needed to prevent children and young people being attracted to vaping, it does not believe that banning disposable vapes is the way to go about it.

He said: “An outright ban will simply send youngsters towards unorthodox and illicit sources where there is no compliance to tobacco and vaping laws, while the products they peddle are likely to contain dangerous and illegal levels of toxic chemicals.

“Disposable vapes are usually more affordable and, as such, are a bigger incentive for adult smokers to change to vapes.”

Association of Convenience Stores Chief Executive James Lowman added: “There are rules already in place to stop children purchasing vapes, to stop vapes being littered and ensure they can be recycled, and to punish those who sell illicit products but they are either not being enforced effectively or not at all due to a lack of resources provided to trading standards.

“The government’s proposals will have a significant operational and financial impact on legitimate retailers, while rogue sellers will continue on without concern.”

The UK government’s 10-week public consultation on ‘Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping’, closed on 6 December. More than 25,000 responses were analysed and the government says 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.

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “Vapes should only be used by adults as a tool to quit smoking. They contribute to an extra 50,000-70,000 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.”

UKVIA said: “We are dismayed at the government’s decision to ban disposable vapes, which have been instrumental in bringing the UK’s smoking rates down to a record low and have played a key role in helping millions of adults quit and stay off cigarettes.

“While action to prevent youth access to vaping is critical, this move smacks more of a desperate attempt by the government to sacrifice vapers for votes ahead of the upcoming General Election. If the government thinks banning disposables will help protect young people, they are completely misguided. This counterproductive legislation will sooner put children at greater risk by turbo-charging the black market and, in turn, making it easier for them to access illicit and non-compliant vapes.”

The ban will have a positive impact on the environment. Five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week, up from 1.3 million from last year.

Dipoti believes the introduction of a disposal scheme – similar to the deposit return scheme being planned for single use drinks containers – would better address the government’s concerns on the environmental impact that these products have.He said: “Vape retailers are responsible and offer a recycling option, but the government should be looking at making available more ways to safely recycle disposable vapes.”

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This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This website contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under 18 years of age.

This publication contains images and information relating to tobacco products. Please do not view if you are under the age of 18 years old.