Call to ban sale of vapes and cigarettes near schools to protect children's health

The government is considering banning disposable vapes. Credit: PA

Calls have been made to ban the sale of disposable vapes and cigarettes near schools in a bid to “protect young people”.

The step could work towards "educating a nicotine and tobacco-free generation", according to The World Health Organisation (WHO).

WHO said the "tobacco industry relentlessly targets young people", with products such as single-use vapes made more affordable.

A new guide by the organisation aims to support schools and teachers in making campuses smoke and nicotine-free with a series of new policies.

The government is considering banning young people from ever being able to buy a cigarette. Credit: PA

The recommendations include prohibiting the sale of tobacco and nicotine products, such as vapes, near schools.

It comes amid calls in England to ban single-use e-cigarettes following a hike in the number of children and young people using them.

It has also been reported the government is planning to accept a recommendation that would effectively ban cigarettes for the next generation.

If implemented by 2026, it would mean anyone aged 15 and under now would never be able to buy a cigarette.

A similar law was passed in New Zealand last year which made it illegal for anyone born in 2009 or after to buy a cigarette.

The UK is ahead of the WHO's recommendations in many places when it comes to tobacco products, but similar rules are not in place for vaping.

It has been against the law to smoke inside or in enclosed public spaces in the UK, including schools, since 2007.

Public Health Wales says disposable vapes cause huge problems for the environment. Credit: PA

It has been illegal for retailers to sell branded cigarette packs since 2016.

The government outlined plans to crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to children by closing a loophole that allowed free samples to be given out without proof of age.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said the UK had effectively banned cigarettes from schools but is urging the government to come up with a similar plan for vapes.

She said any new strategy "needs to include banning e-cigarette branding with bright colours, cartoon characters and sweet names which we know appeals to children.

“Most children get their vapes in shops so we also want a ban on advertising and in-store promotion and display in any shop accessible to children and taxes on the cheapest products to stop them being available at pocket money prices, while keeping them cheaper than cigarettes for adult smokers who want to quit.”

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has previously called for a ban on disposable vapes as it warned that "youth vaping is fast becoming an epidemic among children."

Earlier this year, the NHS announced that 40 children and young people were admitted to hospital in England last year due to "vaping-related disorders" – which could include lung damage or worsening asthma symptoms – up from 11 two years earlier.

Figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) earlier this month showed a large increase in vaping among teenagers and young adults in Britain.

In 2022 some 15.5% of 16 to 24-year-olds vaped daily or occasionally, up from 11.1% in 2021.

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