Efforts to Prevent Youth Addiction to Nicotine
LONDON – In a bid to tackle the alarming rise in youth vaping and prevent children from becoming addicted to nicotine, the British government has announced plans to ban the sale of disposable vapes and restrict the variety of flavors available. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to reveal the details of the proposal on Monday.
Curbing Youth Vaping
Despite the existing law that prohibits the sale of vapes and tobacco to individuals under 18 in the U.K., officials have noted a threefold increase in youth vaping over the past three years. They attribute this surge to the prevalence of cheap and vibrant disposable vapes, which have become a primary driving force behind the rise.
As part of the government’s comprehensive plan, the sale of disposable vapes will be banned entirely. Furthermore, the authorities will limit the availability of flavors that are specifically targeted at children. Manufacturers will also be required to package vapes in less visually appealing ways to discourage their appeal to youngsters.
“Acting Before It Becomes Endemic”
Prime Minister Sunak emphasized the urgency of addressing the rising trend of vaping among children, stating, “The long-term effects of vaping remain unknown, and the highly addictive nature of nicotine makes it unacceptable to market vapes to children. While vaping can be a helpful tool for smokers looking to quit, we must take action now to prevent this issue from becoming widespread.”
Controversial Proposal: Raising the Minimum Age to Buy Cigarettes
In addition to the vaping restrictions, Sunak’s government remains committed to a controversial plan announced last year. The proposal aims to gradually raise the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes, ensuring that individuals born after January 1, 2009, will never be legally able to buy them. Although health experts have supported this measure, some members of the Conservative Party view it as excessive state intervention. The plan drew inspiration from a similar proposal in New Zealand, which was subsequently abandoned after a change in government.
Decline in Smoking Rates, but Challenges Persist
Over the years, the number of smokers in the UK has decreased by two-thirds since the 1970s. However, approximately 6.4 million people, roughly 13% of the population, continue to smoke, according to official figures. These statistics underscore the ongoing need for measures to combat smoking and vaping-related issues.