UK to ban disposable vapes, restrict flavored e-cigarettes 'specifically marketed' to kids: 'We must act'

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The British government will ban the sale of disposable vapes and certain flavored e-cigarettes, following the advice of health experts.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is expected to announce the plan aimed at preventing children from becoming addicted to nicotine on Monday. The effort to curb nicotine includes a contentious proposal to ban anyone born after Jan. 1, 2009, from ever buying cigarettes.

“As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic,” Sunak said.

Sunak’s government added, “The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.”

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Rishi Sunak speaking

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the government “must act” to ban vapes “before it becomes endemic.” (Peter Nicholls/Getty Images)

Selling vapes or tobacco to children under 18 remains illegal in the U.K., but officials say that youth vaping has tripled in the past three years.

Disposable vapes, which are often cheaper and colorful, are a “key driver,” health officials said.

To combat this, the government will ban disposable vapes as well as “restrict flavors which are specifically marketed at children.”

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The government also intends to restrict the items’ appeal by requiring manufacturers to put vapes in “less visually appealing packaging.”

Vapes, packaging

Electronic vaping devices packed in a plastic bag as Britain’s Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty visit a lab at Kent Scientific Services in West Malling, England, Tuesday, May 30, 2023. (Daniel Leal/Pool via AP)

In addition to restricting the availability and appeal of vapes, Sunak intends to continue raising the age to purchase cigarettes in compliance with a plan announced last year.

Sunak’s government adopted the plan after a similar proposal was adopted in New Zealand. New Zealand has since dropped the plan after a change in its government’s ruling party.

Colorful disposable vapes

A selection of colorful disposable vapes on display for sale in a souvenir shop in London, Monday, Jan. 29, 2024. The British government says it will ban the sale of disposable vapes and limit their cornucopia of flavors in an effort to prevent children becoming addicted to nicotine. It also says it will stick to a contentious proposal to ban today’s young people from ever buying cigarettes. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

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In the U.K., the plan has been met with conflicting reactions. Health experts welcome it, but some conservatives are outraged as they contend it is a needless overreach by the state.

Approximately 6.4 million people in the U.K., or roughly 13% of the population, still smoke.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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