UK to ban disposable vapes to prevent children from using them

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The brightly colored packaging is a clever mix of ombré pink and lime green. The nicotine inside is wrapped in a “strawberry kiwi” flavor.

More and more plastic disposable vapes like this are finding their way into the hands of children, with one in five young Brits aged 11 to 17 having tried vaping in the last year, according to Action on Smoking and Health, an independent public health charity.

They will soon be banned in Britain, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday, unveiling a package of measures to ban single-use vapes, restrict flavors and regulate packaging and displays.

Britain is following the lead of several other countries, as well as a number of US states, which have already taken steps to tackle underage vaping, as seen in the colorful and trendy packaging and fruit or candy flavors appealed to teenagers and children.

Mr Sunak said the ban, part of legislation which has yet to be approved by Parliament, aimed to stop “one of the most worrying trends of the moment”, before it becomes “endemic “.

“The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine they contain can be highly addictive. So while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable,” he said in a statement.

Andrea Leadsom, Britain’s health minister, said the measures were aimed at ensuring vapes were aimed at adults who are quitting smoking, rather than children.

“Nicotine is highly addictive and so it is completely unacceptable for children to get their hands on these products, many of which are undeniably designed to appeal to young people,” she said in a statement.

Recent surveys suggest a sharp increase in the number of young people vaping in Britain. In 2023, 20.5 percent of children aged 11 to 17 had tried it, compared to 15.8 percent in 2022 and 13.9 percent in 2020. according to data from Action on Smoking and Health, an independent public health charity.

The charity said the vast majority used a single use disposable vapesand the most popular brand was Elf Bar, with fruit or soda flavors most used by this age group.

Disposable vapes, which contain lithium batteries, also harm the environment, with one estimate five million thrown away every week in Britain in 2023, compared to 1.3 million a year earlier, according to government statistics.

Last week, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, expressed concern about the growing use of vaping by young people and urged member states “to take rapid action to counter this emerging threat.

Speaking at a meeting of public health officials in Geneva on Wednesday, Dr Tedros said that although the tobacco industry presents vaping as harmless, “it is full of dangers and actually harms children.” .

“You hook them with it, they think it’s smart, fashionable, cool,” he said of efforts by vape producers to market their products to young people. “And then they will be customers of the tobacco industry for life, that’s what’s happening.”

He likened it to “history repeating itself but in a different form, the same nicotine in different packaging”, drawing parallels between the beginnings of cigarette marketing to young people.

While it is not illegal for people under 18 to smoke or vape in Britain, it is illegal to sell these products to them. By banning disposable vapes and limiting the flavors and packaging of rechargeable vapes, the government hopes to significantly reduce the likelihood of young people experimenting with e-cigarettes.

The measures announced on Monday are part of a broader government strategy to reduce overall tobacco consumption. Last year, Mr Sunak announcement plans to make it illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, so those who turn 15 this year or younger will never be able to legally purchase them.

Other countries are seeking to curb the appeal of vaping among young people. Australia introduced sweeping legislation late last year which prohibits all vaping without a prescription. French lawmakers have backed a proposal to ban single-use vapes. And New Zealand has introduced regulations on the marketing of vapes to children.

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