UK Considers Banning Sweet Vapes for Teens Over Addiction Fears
The UK government is reportedly considering new plans to ban sweet-flavoured and fruit disposable vapes for teenagers due to concerns that young people are getting hooked on multi-coloured Elf Bars and similar products. In response to this issue, ministers are expected to announce sweeping access restrictions on vapes for those aged under 18.
Neil O’Brien, a minister for public health, is set to launch a call for evidence within the next few days ahead of restricting access to the nicotine products for under-18s, according to a report by The Sun. The review will investigate the appearance and characteristics of vape products, such as branding, marketing, colour, and flavours.
The government is also reportedly concerned about how such products are marketed on social media. There are fears that the brightly-coloured packaging and flavour names, such as Coconut Melon, Cotton Candy Ice, and Strawberry Ice Cream, are being used to entice young customers. In response to this, ministers are expected to investigate how such products are marketed on social media, with the aim of preventing young people from becoming addicted to nicotine.
The MP for Harborough, Neil O’Brien, is also expected to offer a formal response to an independent review by Dr Javed Khan OBE into the government’s ambition to make England and Wales smoke-free by 2030. In his review, Dr Khan suggested banning smoking in outdoor spaces and mandating anti-smoking messages on cigarette sticks, such as the number of ‘minutes of life lost’ per cigarette. He also suggested designing cigarettes using “dissuasive colours” and emblazoning them with a “smoking kills” warning.
However, The Sun claims that ministers are now set to reject Dr Khan’s suggestions. A Whitehall source told the newspaper that they are not looking at taking this forward.
NHS data from 2021 revealed that almost one in ten 11 to 15-year-olds vaped, compared to just six per cent in 2018. The data also showed that almost one in five over 15s vaped. This is a concerning trend, as vaping among young people can lead to nicotine addiction, which can have long-lasting effects on health and wellbeing.
The Department for Health and Social Care has said that while vaping is a preferable alternative to smoking for adults, they are concerned about the increasing use of disposable vaping products among children. The government is exploring a range of measures to address this, including clamping down on children accessing vapes illegally and those who are getting hooked on nicotine.
The government remains committed to their ambition to be smoke-free by 2030. They believe it is right to do all they can to protect children from addiction, and will continue to investigate and implement measures to prevent young people from becoming addicted to nicotine. While the debate over the use of vapes among young people continues, it is clear that action needs to be taken to protect the health and wellbeing of future generations.
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