Disposable vapes are set to be prohibited in the UK as part of a concerted effort to combat the increasing use of these products among young people.
The new law, endorsed by the Welsh Government, will restrict flavors specifically marketed to children and mandate less attractive packaging to deter the younger demographic.
Previously, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak committed to making it illegal to sell tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2009. The Welsh Government had already expressed support for this initiative and other measures aimed at reducing harm from smoking and alternatives.
The proposed ban on disposable vapes is a response to the outcomes of the “Creating a smoke-free generation and tackling youth vaping” consultation across the four nations.
Reports indicate that single-use products priced under £5 are contributing to a surge in vaping among children. The ban is also motivated by concerns about environmental impact, with an estimated five million discarded vapes each week causing litter problems and potential hazards, such as bin fires from batteries and leakage of harmful components into the environment.
Under the new laws, the UK Government will gain authority to determine permissible vape flavors, with a focus on eliminating those appealing to children. Packaging regulations will also be established, considering options such as plain cigarette-style packaging or more limited rules prohibiting child-friendly imagery. Shops may be required to store vapes behind counters, and quicker fines will be imposed for selling products to those under 18.
The consultation on these plans, which closed in December, received nearly 28,000 responses, including 1,018 from Wales.
The UK Government intends to expedite the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which will alter the age of sale for tobacco products and introduce regulations for vaping product flavors, point of sale, and packaging. The Welsh Government, in alignment with the UK and Scottish governments, plans to implement legislation banning disposable vapes due to their significant environmental impact.
Lynne Neagle, Wales’ deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing, said: “Smoking is the leading cause of preventable illness and premature death in Wales. It causes a quarter of all cancer deaths in the UK and is responsible for 80,000 preventable deaths in the UK of which around 5,600 are in Wales, each year.
“Whilst vapes can be useful to some smokers in supporting smoking cessation, data shows the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years. Due to their nicotine content and the unknown long-term harms, vaping carries a risk of harm and addiction for children.