The UK’s Conservative Party government is planning to limit vaping products without yet defining the details. They have indicated that they are “thinking about new laws to control the flavours of vaping products and how they are advertised” with the aim of decreasing vape use by young people. It is worth noting that the government policy document frequently refers to teenagers as “children,” which may be a concerning observation.
The government seems determined to take some action on flavors, although they aren’t giving it away in their policy document, which acknowledges that flavored vapes are also preferred by adults and improve smoking cessation outcomes.
“To avoid unintended consequences on youth and adult smoking rates,” says the government, “the scope of restrictions will need to be carefully considered. The options for how the government will seek to do this will be detailed in a consultation later this month.”
In September, British newspapers reported that a plan to forbid throwaway vapes was coming up. However, the government hasn’t yet announced any specific plan. Today’s published policy paper clarifies the arguments for possibly disallowing disposables, but refrains from strongly endorsing a ban. Many in the government are worried about environmental damage from disposing of single-use vapes unsafely. However, the main reason for a potential ban is the increasing fear about teenagers vaping.
The government will propose that nicotine-free vaping products only be sold to those 18 and older, and also says it will “explore” in its coming consultation “whether we should also impose further restrictions on non-nicotine vapes.” Nicotine-free e-liquids are important in the UK, where many vape shop customers buy zero-nicotine shortfills to avoid bottle-size regulations left over from EU-mandated product rules.
This is the full list of vaping policy changes under consideration:
- Restricting vape flavors
- Regulating packaging and product presentation
- Regulating point of sale displays
- Restricting the sale of disposable vapes
- Introducing an age restriction for non-nicotine vapes
- Exploring further restrictions for other nicotine consumer products such as nicotine
- Preventing industry giving out free samples of vapes to children
These areas of concern were included in an earlier public consultation, announced in April along with the health department’s smoking cessation plan that included distributing a million free vapes.
The thought of banning flavours or disposable vaping products is frustrating for UK advocates, who have worked hard to create the world’s least intrusive and most liberal vaping product regulations. This may change if the government reconsiders its priorities. Even if the Sunak government decides not to implement bans, the possibility of such bans has already been introduced. The upcoming UK administration, possibly headed by the leftist Labour Party, could have fewer concerns regarding the prohibition of nicotine items favoured by consumers.