The smokefree generation and youth vaping: What today’s news means

Measures to curb youth vaping 

The government response confirmed strong measures to curb youth vaping; including the implementation of new powers to make the packaging, flavours and displays of e-cigarette products less appealing to children.  

A loophole which allowed for free distributions of vapes in the street without age verification will be closed. Non-nicotine vapes and other consumer nicotine products such as pouches will be subject to the same regulations as vapes that do contain nicotine.  

It was also announced that separate legislation will be brought forward in England, Scotland and Wales to ban disposable vapes, because of their impact on youth vaping and the environment. Northern Ireland will consider at a late date doing so too.  

It’s important that through clamping down on youth vaping we don’t also create barriers for those trying to quit smoking, or risk having people who use these products switch to smoking tobacco or using illicit vapes instead. 

The evidence so far suggests that legal vapes are far less harmful than tobacco and can help people to quit. However, vaping hasn’t been around long enough for us to know its long-term impact, so it can’t be considered risk-free. 

Recent Cancer Research UK-funded research has suggested that banning disposable vapes could stop them falling into the hands of children or people who’ve never smoked but could also have unintended consequences, particularly for people who smoke that are using them to quit smoking.  

When passing restrictions to curb youth vaping, the UK Government must ensure local smoking cessation services are adequately funded, and those trying to quit are given as much support as they need to help them do so.  

We welcomed the announcements of new funding for stop smoking services and quit campaigns in England last October but as we set out in our plan for longer, better lives, it is essential this funding is sustained through the next parliamentary term and until smokefree ambitions are met.

How will we implement the legislation? 

Ensuring the success of the smokefree generation plan and policies to curb youth vaping also rests on robust measures to prevent and prosecute underage sales and reduce illicit trade.  

That’s why, alongside the measures we’ve just talked about, there were also announcements around funding, and enforcement powers.  

This includes new ‘on the spot’ fines, which trading standards officers could give out to shops in England and Wales that illegally sell vapes and tobacco to those underaged. 

In addition, a new strategy to ‘stub out’ illicit tobacco was also published today by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force – who help to reduce trade in illicit tobacco.  

The strategy will focus on reducing demand for illicit tobacco, as well as tackle and disrupt organised crime behind the illicit tobacco trade. Behind the new strategy, the Government have pledged £100 million across 5 years, used to fund the activity of HMRC, Border Force, and Trading Standards.  

The road ahead 

So, what’s next? 

The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will include raising the age of sale of tobacco products, as well as giving government the powers to take measures restricting the flavours, packaging and display of vapes.  

The legislation should be introduced to the Houses of Parliament soon, and then MPs will have the chance to vote on it. 

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