…By Alan Peterson for TDPel Media.
In response to concerns about the increasing number of children trying e-cigarettes, the UK government has announced a new crackdown on vape marketing.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak emphasized the need to prevent the “unacceptable” targeting of children and young people.
One of the measures includes closing a loophole that allows retailers to give free samples of vapes to children in England.
This move follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressing his own concerns about his daughters being targeted by vape marketing during an appearance on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
Reviewing the Sale of “Nicotine-Free” Vapes to Under-18s
Alongside closing the loophole on vape samples, the government will also conduct a review of the rules regarding the sale of “nicotine-free” vapes to individuals under the age of 18.
The aim is to examine the potential ban on retailers selling these products to underage individuals.
This review intends to address the issue of marketing products that can act as a gateway to nicotine use among young people.
Strengthening Fines for Illegal Vape Sales to Children
The government will further review the regulations concerning fines imposed on shops that illegally sell vapes to children.
This review seeks to streamline the process, making it easier for local trading standards officials to issue on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices.
The intention is to increase the effectiveness of enforcement and discourage the unlawful sale of vaping products to minors.
Concerns Over Increasing Youth Vaping Rates
Citing data from the NHS in 2021, ministers highlighted that the percentage of 11-15 year olds using e-cigarettes had risen to 9% from 6% in 2018.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed his deep concern about this increase and revealed his shock over reports of illicit vapes containing lead being accessible to schoolchildren.
To address this issue, the government has allocated £3 million to establish an illicit vape enforcement squad dedicated to combating this problem.
Chief Medical Officer and Labour’s Response
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty welcomed the decision to close the loophole, emphasizing the need to prevent non-smokers from being encouraged to start vaping.
He acknowledged the positive role vaping can play in helping smokers quit, but expressed concern about companies marketing these products to children.
Labour’s shadow health secretary, Wes Streeting, considered the government’s announcement as only a small step and called for more urgent action to prevent the younger generation from becoming addicted to nicotine.
Education, Policing, and Industry Response
As part of the ongoing government review of the curriculum, the health risks of vaping will be included in Relationships, Sex, and Health Education lessons.
Additionally, dedicated police school liaison officers will work to prevent illegal vapes from entering schools.
Industry figures responded positively to the government’s proposals.
Gillian Golden, chief executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association, criticized the exploitation of the loophole allowing free samples and supported the government’s actions.
Joe Murillo, chief regulatory officer of Juul Labs, emphasized the collective responsibility of government, regulators, and industry to reduce underage access and appeal of vaping products.