The UK government plans to ban disposable vapes in an effort to curb the increasing trend of vaping among young people. The move also includes measures to prevent the marketing of vapes to children and to clamp down on underage sales. According to the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity, 7.6% of 11 to 17-year-olds now vape regularly or occasionally, a significant increase from 4.1% in 2020.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to elaborate on these plans during a school visit. The ban, which is expected to be implemented across the UK, follows last year’s announcement of a ban on cigarette sales to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.
The government has identified disposable vapes, often sold in smaller, colourful packaging, as a major factor behind the rise in youth vaping. The timing for the ban’s introduction is yet to be confirmed, but it could be enacted using existing environmental protection legislation.
Further changes include restrictions on the sale of refillable vapes in child-friendly flavours and requirements for plainer packaging. Shops may also be required to display refillable vapes out of children’s sight and away from other products they might buy. A public consultation will decide which flavours should be banned and how refillable vapes will be sold.
Additional fines will be imposed on shops in England and Wales found selling vapes illegally to children. Nicotine pouches, an alternative to vaping, will also be banned for children.
The UK Vaping Industry Association expressed disappointment at the announcement, arguing that disposable vapes have helped millions of adults quit smoking. It warned that the ban could fuel the black market and increase the availability of illicit vapes.
The UK joins Australia, France, Germany, and New Zealand in planning to ban disposable vapes. Critics argue that more needs to be done, including imposing a tax on e-cigarettes and providing more resources to crack down on rogue retailers.