Vape advertising: Government to crack down on retailers targeting children with products

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 The government will clamp down on a loophole that allows shops to sell vape samples to children in the UK.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a new government crackdown on vape marketing which will stop retailers targeting children and young people. 

The new plan will clamp down on a loophole that allows shops to offer free samples of vapes to children in England after a recent surge in vaping amongst youths. 

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There will also be a review into banning retailers selling “nicotine-free” vapes to under-18s and a plan to increase police liaison officers appointed in schools to stop children carrying illegal vapes.

It comes after NHS figures showed a significant increase in the number of children aged between 11 to 15 years old using e-cigarettes over the last three years. The results show 6% of youths used e-cigarettes in 2018 which went up to 9% in 2021. 

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in kids vaping and shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of school children.

“Our new illicit vape enforcement squad – backed by £3 million – is on the case, but clearly there is more to do. That is why I am taking further action today to clamp down on rogue firms who unlawfully target our children with these products.”

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He added: “The marketing and the illegal sales of vapes to children is completely unacceptable and I will do everything in my power to end this practice for good.”

Health minister Neil O'Brien described any marketing of vaping products to children as "shameful".

He said: “The shameful marketing of vaping products to children is leading to growing numbers trying e-cigarettes. Today we are therefore ramping up our efforts to stop kids getting hooked on vaping, including taking steps to crack down on companies handing out free vape samples to under 18s and adding lessons on the health risks of vaping within the curriculum for the first time.

“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. Alongside this our new specialised ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ will also clamp down on online shops selling illicit vapes to under 18s.

“This builds on action announced last month to protect our children’s health and tackle underage vaping, whilst exploiting the potential of vaping to help adult smokers quit.”

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