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Ban on disposable vapes and restriction on e-cigarette flavors introduced

Disposable vapes are set to be banned in a bid to curb the growing number of young people getting hooked on vaping. The new regulations, expected to take effect next year, will put an end to the availability of throwaway products such as Lost Marys and Elf Bars. In addition to the ban, ministers will also be given powers to limit vape flavors, introduce plain packaging, and change the way vapes are displayed in shops to make them less appealing to children.

The government argues that these changes are necessary to protect children, as one in five youngsters have already tried vaping, despite it being illegal for those under the age of 18. While e-cigarettes can be an effective tool for adult smokers trying to quit, concerns have been raised that non-smokers are taking up the addictive habit. Research suggests that nearly half of 18 to 24-year-olds who use disposable vapes have no history of smoking. Health advocates have highlighted the issue of affordability, with throwaway products available for as little as £3, which has attracted young people to start vaping. The heavy use of disposable vapes is also causing environmental concerns, with five million of them discarded every week.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins emphasized the importance of using vapes strictly as a smoking cessation aid, stating, “The health advice is clear, vapes should only ever be used as a tool to quit smoking. But we are committed to doing more to protect our children from illicit underage vaping, and by banning disposable vapes we’re preventing children from becoming hooked for life.” The ban on disposable vapes will be applicable across England, Wales, and Scotland.

As part of the changes, there will be efforts to restrict flavors that are marketed specifically to attract children. Although a final decision is yet to be made, ministers might limit flavors to tobacco, mint, menthol, and fruit. Packaging regulations will also be introduced to make vape products less appealing to young people, although specific details are yet to be determined.

In addition, the government plans to consult on rules for the placement of vapes in shops, potentially moving them out of sight to minimize exposure to children. New penalties will be introduced for shops in England and Wales found illegally selling vapes to minors. There is ongoing consideration as to whether a new vaping tax should be imposed to discourage affordability, but the government is likely to assess the impact of the disposable vape ban first.

Furthermore, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) will be cracking down on the trade of illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco. Chancellor Rishi Sunak has already revealed his intentions to raise the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes and tobacco, currently 18 in England, by one year each year. If approved, this means that anyone who turns 15 this year will never be able to buy cigarettes legally.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed concern over the rising trend of vaping among children, stating, “As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic. 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.”

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