Published by BBC NEWS - 25th May 2023
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Girl vapingImage source, Getty Images

It is “ridiculous” that vapes are promoted to children, Rishi Sunak has said as he pledged to look at ways of strengthening marketing rules.

Speaking to ITV’s This Morning, the prime minister said he didn’t want his daughters “seduced by these things”.

Earlier this week, a BBC investigation found vapes confiscated from school pupils contained high levels of lead, which could affect brain development.

It is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s.

NHS figures released last year found that while there was a fall in the number of school children taking drugs and smoking cigarettes, vape usage had risen to 9% among 11 to 15-year-olds in England – up from 6% in 2018.

In the same period, vaping among 15-year-old girls jumped from 10% to 21%.

A more recent study by Action on Smoking Health found that corner shops were “the main source of purchase and child awareness of instore promotion had grown significantly in the last year”.

Vapes or e-cigarettes are generally considered to be safer than normal cigarettes because they do not contain harmful tobacco.

The government says vaping is “an important tool” to help adults give up smoking and contribute to its target of making smoking obsolete in England by 2030.

However, it also says children should not take up vaping and has launched a consultation seeking evidence on how the appearance and promotion of vapes may attract children.

Forty countries have banned vapes completely, while others have sought to make them less appealing to young people. Canada, for example, put restrictions on the types of vape flavours that can be sold.

Speaking to ITV’s This Morning programme, Mr Sunak expressed concern about children, who are aged 12 and 10, taking up vaping.

“I have two young girls – that’s why I worry about it.”

He pointed to £3m of funding, announced last month, for a squad of trading standards officers to tackle shops illegally selling vapes to children.

He also said he wanted to look at “how can we strengthen the rules on how they are marketed, promoted – what do they look like”.

He added: “It looks like they are targeted at kids which is ridiculous – I don’t want my kids seduced by any of these things.”

Labour has said it would ban vapes from being branded and advertised to appeal to children if it wins power.

The party has also promised to work with local councils and the NHS to ensure vapes “are being used as a stop smoking aide, rather than a new form of smoking”.




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