Should vaping products have the same restrictions as tobacco?

  • ITV Wales' Daniel Bevan takes a look at the proposals from Public Health Wales.

Calls for E-cigarettes to face the same restrictions as tobacco products when it comes to marketing, packaging and the way they are displayed are being met with opposition by lobby groups.

Public Health Wales wants to see the measures put in place to help tackle smoking and youth vaping.

The public body has responded to the UK Government's consultation on the issue. But the proposal is being criticised by smokers' group Forest.

Its director Simon Clark told ITV Wales: "It's ridiculous and counter-productive to discourage existing smokers from switching to a reduced-risk product that has helped many people quit smoking."

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

Public Health Wales has also renewed its calls for raising the age of tobacco sales in the UK which closed yesterday.

Youth vaping has become a national talking point, with research showing that 5% of secondary pupils in Wales vape at least once a week.

PHW acknowledges vaping can help adult smokers quit, but is concerned by a rise in vape use amongst those who have never smoked.

Smoking was associated with over 5,000 deaths and almost one in 20 hospital admissions in those over 35 in Wales in 2018.

The organisation also supports a total ban on disposable vapes, saying they are "very strongly associated with rises in vaping amongst children and young people, as well as having clear environmental harms."

Dr Julie Bishop, Director of Health Improvement for Public Health Wales, said: “Public Health Wales supports strong action to raise the age of tobacco sale in the UK, as well as for new laws on the way vapes are marketed and sold to bring them in-line with tobacco products.

She continued: “We welcome the fact that the UK Government consultation asked specifically about the packaging and display of vapes, as we strongly believe that these products should be sold in standardised packaging in plain colours with no logos, as is currently the case with tobacco products.

“Vapes should also be stored behind the counter, and not on display, to mirror the approach for tobacco products. 

“These measures have been very effective in tackling smoking uptake amongst children and young people.”

The Prime Minister has previously outlined plans to create a "smoke-free generation" by banning the sales of all tobacco products to anyone born after 1 January 2009.

Public Health Wales is particularly concerned by the rise in youth vaping, accusing companies of targeting new markets for nicotine addiction.

A spokesperson said: "Ensuring products cannot be marketed in ways that appeal to children and young people is essential to address those concerns."

In their consultation response, they call for reform on the flavouring of vaping products.

This includes restrictions on naming conventions of vape products, including a legally defined list of descriptive flavours, and a ban on flavours that particularly appeal to young people.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said: "Evidence suggests that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than combustible tobacco.

He added: "If the aim is to cut the number of children vaping, the answer is not to reduce the appeal or restrict the display of e-cigarettes in shops.

"The solution is to better enforce existing age restrictions so anyone who sells vapes to children is prosecuted, with the threat of large fines and further penalties for persistent offenders.

"There is no justification for banning the sale of tobacco to future generations of adults. If you are old enough at 18 to vote, drive a car, join the army, and purchase alcohol, you are old enough to buy tobacco."

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