A loophole that allows the e-cigarette industry to give out free samples of vapes to children is set to be shut down after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to clamp down on companies that target youth vaping.
The increase in vape smoking amongst teenagers and the recent surge in the promotion of these “cheap, colourful products” shows that businesses are targeting children, which is the reason behind the crackdown, according to a press release from the Health Department.
“My daughters are 10 and 12, and I don’t want the way vapes are marketed, promoted and sold to be attractive to them. That’s why I am launching a new crackdown today to protect children and go after the rogue companies and online crooks who are putting vapes into their hands,” tweeted Sunak.
In 2021, 9% of 11 to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes compared to 6% in 2018, according to NHS figures.
Spain is facing a similar situation. New e-cigarettes shaped like cartoon characters caused concern in the member state, as the tobacco industry is increasingly trying to reach younger audiences with attractive flavours and designs via unevenly regulated e-cigarette products, Spain’s National Committee for Smoking Prevention warned.
“We will also review the rules on issuing on-the-spot fines to shops that break the law by selling vapes to underage children, and look into banning the sale of nicotine-free vapes to under 18s – which we know can be a gateway to using nicotine products,” said UK Health Minister Neil O’Brien.
“Alongside this, our new specialised ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ will also clamp down on online shops selling illicit vapes to under 18s,” he added.
Those working in the industry appear to welcome this crackdown.
l“The loophole allowing free samples to be distributed regardless of consumer age is a gap that no self-respecting business should ever have considered exploiting,” said Gillian Golden, chief executive of the Independent British Vape Trade Association
“We welcome the steps the UK government has outlined today to combat youth vaping,” said Joe Murillo, Chief Regulatory Officer of Juul Labs.
(Sofia Stuart Leeson | EURACTIV.com)
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