Disposable vapes to be banned in Wales to stop children using them

Disposable vapes will be banned under plans supported by the Welsh Government. Credit: PA Images

Disposable vapes will be banned to protect the increasing number of children using them, the Welsh Government has announced.

Mark Drakeford's administration will also support UK Government legislation seeking to increase the legal age for smoking and vaping by one year every year, meaning people born on or after 1 January 2009 will never be able to buy tobacco.

It follows a consultation across all four home nations on "creating a smoke-free generation and tackling youth vaping".

More than 1,000 people from Wales responded to the consultation, which closed in December.

Refillable vapes will not be banned, although people born on after January 1 2009 will never be able to legally buy them. Credit: PA Images

Smoking is the main cause of preventable illness and premature death in Wales, with more than 5,000 people dying as a result of the habit each year, according to the Welsh Government. It causes a quarter of cancer deaths across the UK.

Disposable vapes are also difficult to recycle and are causing an increasing issue for the environment, with nearly 5 million either littered or thrown away each week.

They can also release toxic chemicals once they have been thrown away.

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They have become a useful device to help former cigarette smokers, but data shows the number of children using them has risen dramatically.

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said: "Whilst vapes can be useful to some smokers in supporting smoking cessation, data shows the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past 3 years.

"Due to their nicotine content and the unknown long-term harms, vaping carries a risk of harm and addiction for children."

She added: "We want to take all actions possible to stop young people from starting smoking in the first place, to prevent youth vaping and to tackle the effects single-use vapes are having on our environment."

The UK Government's Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which will be brought before Parliament as soon as possible, would also introduce restrictions on flavours and packaging which is seen as appealing to children and young people.

The Bill would increase enforcement on selling products to people under age in England and Wales. This has been welcomed by charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) Wales.

Its chief executive, Suzanne Cass, said: "The UK Government’s strategy, which is supported by the Welsh Government, is the right one: stop smoking initiation, support smokers to quit by using the most effective methods while protecting children by curbing youth vaping.

"Smoking kills 5,600 people every year in Wales and costs the Welsh NHS more than £300m. Smoking is the silent killer that hides in plain sight. Ending this scourge on society is long overdue.”

The charity found almost 70% of underage vapers use disposable vapes, which it said are available for "pocket money prices."

Talking about the way disposable vapes are often marketed, Ms Cass added: “The UK Government is taking vital powers to control the design and promotion of e-cigarettes to prevent them being promoted to children.

"The comic characters, bright colours and sweet names appealing to children are unacceptable for products that should only be promoted to adults as an aid to quitting smoking.”

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Joseph Carter, Head of Asthma + Lung UK Cymru, says "smoking is the biggest cause of lung disease deaths" adding that this decision will "save thousands of lives".

He is calling on the Welsh Government to invest in trading standards, enforcement, marketing and smoking cessation, to ensure that this law is effective.

And welcomes that the plan to create a "smoke-free generation" is a shared ambition of the Welsh and UK Governments.

Mr Carter said: "Disposable vapes, with their pocket money prices and brightly-coloured packaging, have contributed to the increase in under-18s taking up vaping, and we support a well-thought-out, properly enforced ban on disposable vapes in Wales."

Mr Carter added: “If you’re a smoker and you want to quit tobacco, vaping can be a helpful way to give up smoking. But for children and those who don’t smoke, starting to vape isn’t a good idea, especially if you have a lung condition."