Rishi Sunak confirms single-use vapes will be banned in the UK

close up of various vapes
Yep, disposable vapes are being banned in the UKRoman Mykhalchuk - Getty Images

Disposable vapes will be banned in the UK, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed.

The government has announced the ambitious new measures in a bid to try and crack down on underage smoking.

Recent figures show the number of children using vapes in the past three years has tripled, with one in 10 children aged between 11-15 now vaping regularly.

Sunak confirmed the plans when visiting a school. In a statement, he said: "As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic.

"The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable."

woman vaping and looking at phone
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As part of these measures, new powers will be introduced to restrict flavours which are specifically marketed at children. Packaging will also be changed to be plainer and less visibly appealing, and the way vapes are retailed will also be forced to change; they are no longer allowed to be positioned in the sight of children or near items that may appeal to them, such as sweets.

To crack down on underage sales, the government will also bring in new fines for shops in England and Wales which sell vapes illegally to children, building upon on a maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose. Vaping alternatives – such as nicotine pouches – are also set to be outlawed.

Britain would be following in the footsteps of many other countries in the Western world who have made efforts to curb or ban the use of disposable vapes.

Australia has banned all vaping without a prescription, Germany prohibited flavoured e-cigarettes and New Zealand outlawed most disposable vapes and put curbs on marketing to children. France has also announced its plan to ban all disposable e-cigarettes.

The number of people vaping in the UK has rocketed over the last few years.

young blonde woman vaping
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It is thought that 4.3 million people regularly use e-cigarettes, up from 800,000 a decade ago.

More than seven million single-use vapes are bought every week in the UK - double the amount bought in 2022.

Meanwhile, there has been growing concern about the impact disposable vapes have on the environment.

Research carried out by recycling charity Material Focus found 73 per cent of UK vapers say they throw away single-use vapes.

Scott Butler, the executive director at Material Focus, described single-use vapes as being “a strong contender for being the most environmentally wasteful, damaging and dangerous consumer product ever made.”

The government is thought to have been slower to act on banning vapes outright because it sees vaping as a ‘healther’ alternative for adults who smoke.

Prof Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has said previously: “If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape, and marketing to children is utterly unacceptable.”

There have also been worrying reports of vapes containing poison, something that Cosmopolitan UK recently went undercover to investigate.

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