UK ministers vow to close loopholes in disposable vape ban | Vaping

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UK ministers will aim to stop firms from skirting around an upcoming ban on disposable vapes by eliminating ruses such as attaching charging points to them, the health secretary has said.

The draft legislation, being introduced in parallel with an already announced ban on selling tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009, would be put together with the help of experts who would try to anticipate possible loopholes, Victoria Atkins said.

“We will listen very carefully to suggestions that big tobacco and other vaping companies will somehow find a way around this,” she told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“The motivation here is to help ensure that children and young people are not dragged into this addiction to nicotine, which sadly, these vapes can mean for children, young people.”

Questioned about the possibility of vaping firms adding USB charging points to what remained un-refillable and cheap vapes to dodge the ban, Artkins said: “That’s incredibly cynical and it shows, if you like, the battle that the government is prepared to take on.”

The government is also seeking to make vaping less appealing to children by restricting sweet and fruity flavours, introducing plain packaging and making displays less visible in shops.

The changes, decided after a consultation in which there was 70% backing for the disposable vape ban, are expected to come into effect towards the end of this year or in early 2025.

Atkins said there was a balance to be struck in terms of curbing the use of vapes by children and young people without overly affecting their availability to people seeking to use them to give up tobacco.

“We are mindful of the impact on industry and this is why, for example, when it comes to the flavours, the choice of flavours, the packaging and the placement of vapes in shops, we have said that while parliament grants the powers through the bill, we will of course consult on how this should be implemented.”

The move forms part of a wider response to a public consultation on smoking and vaping, which has resulted in plans for some of the world’s toughest anti-smoking measures.

Although vaping can be useful to help adult smokers to quit, doctors are concerned about the unknown long-term health impact of vaping on young people and their developing respiratory systems, as well as nicotine addiction, which can cause anxiety, trouble concentrating and headaches during withdrawal.

Recent figures show the number of children using vapes in the past three years has tripled, with 9% of 11- to 15-year-olds doing so. The proportion of 11- to 17-year-old vapers using disposables has increased almost ninefold in the past two years.

The ban will reduce the environmental impact of disposables, of which 5m are thrown away each week, up from 1.3m last year.

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health welcomed the announcement, which follows its campaign launched in June to ban disposable e-cigarettes and introduce marketing restrictions.

Dr Mike McKean, a vice-president for policy at the college, said: “Bold action was always needed to curb youth vaping, and banning disposables is a meaningful step in the right direction.”