In a visit to a school on Monday, the prime minister said he aims to "stamp out" vaping among young people.
It is already illegal to sell vapes to anyone under 18, but the government wants to ban disposable vapes, which are often sold in smaller and more colourful packaging than refills, which critics say makes them more attractive to youths.
In 2021, only 7.7% of current vapers aged 11 to 17 used disposable vapes, but this increased to 52% in 2022 and 69% in 2023.
Headteachers and parents have expressed concerns over the rise in youth vaping, with data showing 7.6% of 11 to 17-year-olds now vape regularly or occasionally, up from 4.1% in 2020.
The ban on disposable vapes will use powers already in place under the Environmental Protection Act and is expected to come into force early next year.
Under the new plans, powers will also be introduced to restrict flavours which are specifically marketed at children and ensure that manufacturers produce plainer packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops, moving them out of children’s sight.
New £100 fines will also be brought in for shops in England and Wales which sell vapes illegally to children.
Trading standards officers will be given powers to act “on the spot” to tackle underage tobacco and vape sales. This builds on a maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose.
Vaping alternatives – such as nicotine pouches – will also be banned for children.
Last year, the government also announced a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, which has drawn criticism from many Tories, including former prime minister Liz Truss.
Disposable vapes: Perspectives
“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." - Prime minister Rishi Sunak, read more
“The vaping landscape is constantly evolving, creating opportunities for businesses that are able to navigate the regulatory environment. The Chill brand has gained rapid traction with the support of major retailers, and I am confident that it will continue to do so as we move forward with our plans to launch reusable pod system vapes. Chill Brands Group is an agile company, and we are prepared to adjust to any legislation that may be enacted.” - Callum Sommerton, chief executive officer at vaping firm Chill Brands, read more
“Smoking is the biggest preventable cause of cancer, and research shows that vapes are far less harmful than smoking and can help people to quit. If this legislation is passed, the UK government should 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.” - Dr Ian Walker, executive director of policy at Cancer Research UK, read more
“Banning the sale of tobacco products to anyone born in 2009 or later will create an absurd situation where adults enjoy different rights based on their birthdate. A Conservative government should not be seeking to extend the nanny state. This will only give succour to those who wish to ban further choices of which they don’t approve." - Liz Truss, Conservative MP, read more