Woman smoking electronic cigarette

Government established next steps for smoking crackdown

After announcing measures to curb youth vaping and smoking at the Conservative Party Conference last week, the government has announced a new public consultation.

Seeking views on how to crack down on youth vaping, people of all ages are being invited to take part in the consultation, with options including proposals to restrict child-friendly flavours as well as bright-coloured packaging. The consultation has also received support from across the public sector, with support from the Welsh and Scottish Governments, as well as the Northern Ireland Department for Health.

Alongside measures to reduce the appeal of vaping amongst children, the Prime Minister also announced plans to introduce a new law that would raise the legal smoking age annually, by one year. This would mean that children that turn 14 years old this year, or younger, will never be able to legally buy cigarettes and would contribute to the creation of the first smokefree generation.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:

“Last week I promised to create the first smokefree generation and I am wasting no time to deliver on that promise.

“Our ambitious plans will reverse the worrying rise in youth vaping while protecting our children from the dangerous long-term effects of smoking as quickly as possible.”

Smoking is currently the UK’s biggest preventable killer, with it responsible for a quarter of cancer deaths and costing the economy and wider society around £17 billion every year.

Steve Barclay, Health and Social Care Secretary, added:

“There has been a surge in vaping amongst children, which is why we’re taking action to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes. Vapes should never be used by children and we’re committed to reversing this trend.

“We also need to take bold action to protect future generations from the harms of smoking addiction, which damages health at every stage of life and costs the economy billions.”

The consultation will involve proposals that include:

  • It becoming an offence to sell tobacco products to anybody born on or after 1st January 2009
  • Restrictions on the flavours and descriptions of vapes, to ensure that flavours are no longer targeted at children. This will, however, aim to be done in a way that supports adult smokers to quit vaping
  • Keeping vapes out of sight of children by regulating point of sale displays in retail outlets, whilst also keeping them away from products that appeal to young people, such as sweets
  • Regulations on vape packaging and product presentation to make sure that the device or the packaging appeals to children
  • The potential restricting of the sale of disposable vapes, with this being clearly linked to the increase of vaping amongst children whilst also being incredibly harmful to the environment
  • Exploring potential restrictions on non-nicotine vapes, as well as other nicotine consumer products such as nicotine pouches
  • Increasing the price of vapes to reduce the number of children and young people using them
  • Exploring the idea of enforcing the sale tobacco products by increasing local authority powers to issue-on-the-spot fines.

Michael Matheson, Scottish Government Health Secretary, said:

“We have already committed to a tobacco-free Scotland by 2034 and we welcome the opportunity to take part in this UK-wide consultation on creating a smoke-free generation.

“Scotland has a range of world-leading tobacco control measures – we were the first country in the UK to introduce a ban on smoking in indoor public places in March 2006. As a result, smoking rates are at an all-time low. We continue to be ambitious and have more work to do to create a tobacco free Scotland, and I look forward to the refreshed tobacco action plan being published shortly.

“We will continue to work with the UK Government and other devolved administrations on joint approaches where appropriate.”


Image credit: iStock

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