Lib Dems welcome clampdown on vaping 

31 Jan 2024
Kandy and Vape Shop

The Liberal Democrats have welcomed the Government decision to ban vaping and nicotine use by under 18 year olds.  This follows a motion agreed by Woking Borough Council in November 2023 that called for a ban on disposable vapes and controls of their sales to children. 

Last year over £1.2 billion was spent on vapes and 83% of this was spent on disposable vapes.  It’s estimated that around 4.5 million are thrown away every week causing considerable environmental pollution.  Nicotine is considered by many to be more addictive than heroin and the packaging and marketing of many vape products has cynically been aimed at the youth market. 

The Government ran a public consultation on smoking and vaping which concluded on 6th December 2023.  Over 70 percent of respondents said that disposable vapes should be banned. 

The Government is now set to introduce measures aimed at controlling vaping and nicotine use by anyone under 18.  These measures will include a ban on the sale of disposable vapes and powers to ensure refillable vapes are kept out of sight of children and away from other products they might buy including sweets.  To help stop sales to children, additional fines will be introduced for any shops caught selling vapes illegally to children. 

Lib Dem Councillor for Knaphill, Steve Greentree said, “On a visit to the local secondary school, the head and deputy head displayed a large bag full of vapes that had been confiscated from pupils.  They ranged in size and shape but it was clear that there is a major problem with children vaping in school.  The school had gone to the considerable expense of installing detectors in all the toilet cubicles to detect smoking and vaping and has sent numerous letters to parents about their concerns but vaping stubbornly remains a problem.” 

“Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards reported in 2023 they had more complaints about the underage sale of vapes than either the underage sale of cigarettes or alcohol.  Last year there were 250 complaints including 14 relating to Woking based businesses.  It’s likely that there is under reporting of the issue, not least because any complaints must be filed on the Citizens Advice website.  The relative size of the problem is shown by the contrast with complaints about underage tobacco sales.  Last year, up to September, there were just 8 complaints of underage tobacco sales.” 

“Trading Standards look for complaint hotspots then have the powers to set up a test purchase from a shop so please continue to report complaints.  They conducted 45 test sales in 2023 up to September, in which a minor under 18 went into a shop to try and buy a vape.  Seven shops failed to challenge the age of the buyer so the threat of a significant fine should deter unscrupulous or careless vendors.” 

“We will have to wait until 2025 to see whether vape shops disappear off the High Street but hopefully, the proposed changes will make it harder for underage vapers to get products and discourage youngsters from taking up the habit.  Whilst vaping may be safer than smoking tobacco, there is no long-term data to prove this especially in children.  The danger is that by failing to act, we will have created a future health problem for our children.”