Speaking to ITV’s this morning, prime minister Rishi Sunak promised to look at ways to strengthen the marketing rules around vapes.
Although it is illegal to sell vapes, also known as e-cigarettes, to children younger than 18, NHS figures released last year revealed a rise in usage among children aged 11 to 15-years-old. With the biggest rise among 15-year-old girls.
A more recent BBC investigation found that vapes confiscated from school pupils contained high levels of lead, a metal that can affect healthy brain development.
While corner shops are the main source of purchase, market traders are also in the spotlight. A market trader from Salisbury pleaded guilty to selling an e-cigarette to a child after an operation by Trading Standards.
The prime minister told ITV that he didn’t want his daughters to be “seduced by these things”. His government has launched a consultation to find out more about how the promotion and appearance of vapes make them attractive to children.
He said: “It looks like they are targeted at kids which is ridiculous.”
The government has also committed £3 million of funding to strengthen trading standards operations against shops and stallholders who sell the products illegally to children.
He has stopped short of pledging to ban their sale completely, like 40 other countries have done.
Labour has pledged to ban advertising and branding that make them appeal to children and to work with NHS and councils to ensure they are not used solely as an alternative form of smoking.