London (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will announce plans on Monday to ban the sale of disposable vapes to prevent their use by children, and reaffirm the government’s intention to introduce a law to prevent younger generations from buying tobacco.
Under the new powers, there would be restrictions on e-cigarette flavors, a requirement for uniform packaging, and changes in the display of e-cigarettes to make them less appealing to children.
„In addition to our commitment to ban the legal sale of cigarettes to children who turn 15 or younger this year, these changes will leave a lasting legacy by protecting the long-term health of our children,“ Sunak said in a statement.
Smoking is Britain’s largest preventable cause of death, according to the government, accounting for one in four cancer-related deaths, or about 80,000 per year. In October, Sunak announced plans to pass a law that would prevent people born on or after January 1, 2009 from buying tobacco in their lifetime.
While e-cigarettes are seen as key to smoking cessation, there is concern that they could trigger nicotine addiction in young people, with 9% of 11 to 15-year-olds now consuming them, according to the government.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said in December that all e-cigarette flavors should be banned.
However, industry associations and the UK Vaping Industry Association argue that e-cigarettes pose significantly lower health risks than tobacco, and that flavors are key to persuading smokers to switch.
„I have a commitment to do what I believe is right for our country in the long run,“ Sunak said.
„That is why I am taking bold measures to ban disposable vapes – which have driven the rise of vaping among youths – and to introduce new powers to restrict e-cigarette flavors, introduce uniform packaging, and change the way e-cigarettes are displayed in stores.“
The government says that the ban on disposable vaporizers would not only benefit public health, but also the environment, as five million e-cigarettes are thrown away every week.
(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Bernadette Baum)