Disposable vapes are to be banned in the UK, under new laws proposed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
It is already illegal to sell any vape to anyone under 18, but the government said disposable vapes – often sold in smaller, more colourful packaging than refillable ones – are a “key driver behind the alarming rise in youth vaping”.
To tackle vapes being marketed at children, new powers will also be brought in to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops so they don’t appeal to children.
Fines are also being introduced for retailers in England and Wales which sell vapes illegally to children. Trading standards officers will be empowered to act ‘on the spot’ to tackle underage tobacco and vape sales, building on the maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose.
Vaping alternatives – such as nicotine pouches – will also be outlawed for children who are increasingly turning to these highly addictive substitutes.
The new law on disposable vapes follows last year’s announcement of a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009. This means children who turn 15 this year or younger will never be able to legally be sold cigarettes, delivering on Sunak’s pledge to create a smokefree generation.
While vaping is considered less harmful than smoking, long-term health effects remain unknown. The government seeks to limit exposure, particularly for vulnerable groups like young people.
The primary aim is to curb rising vape use among teenagers, with statistics showcasing a tripling of the trend within three years. Disposable vapes, often vibrantly colored and flavored, are seen as particularly enticing for young people.
The environmental impact of discarded disposable vapes are also a source of concern, with a ban aiming to reduce this landfill burden and encourage the use of refillable alternatives.
The new law forms part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year.
A further public consultation will take place to decide which flavours should be banned and how refillable vapes will be sold, the government said.