Unveiling the Truth: Will Vaping Be Banned in UK?

Unveiling the Truth: Will Vaping Be Banned in UK?

What will the UK vaping scene look like in 2024?

20 December 2023 | Hannah Rubery


In a world where the harmful effects of smoking are increasingly recognized, vaping has emerged as a potentially less harmful alternative for those seeking to quit traditional tobacco products. The United Kingdom has been at the forefront of this shift, with many switching to vaping for its perceived benefits.

However, amidst rising concerns over underage vaping, the future of vaping in the UK is now under scrutiny. We'll take a look at the current landscape of vaping in the UK, shed light on the government's stance, and explore what potential changes may lie ahead for vapers.

Underage Vaping on the Rise?

Recent reports have indicated a potential rise in underage vaping, stirring concern among parents, educators, and health professionals alike. However, it's crucial to delve deeper into these figures and examine the context. While there may be an uptick in experimental use among youngsters, most of these instances do not translate into ongoing or habitual use.

Though there has been a noted increase in those under the age of 18 trying vapes, the issue has been met with some questions. In the UK vaping is illegal to those under the age of 18 and yet, a swathe of busts across the country has found that rogue stores continue to sell vaping products illegally to children.

This issue must be solved for the good of adult vapers and those looking to switch from smoking. But it is also equally important to safeguard the ability for smokers to quit cigarettes with vapes that have been shown in many studies to help with quitting.

The Government's Open Consultation

In response to the rising concerns about underage vaping, the UK government initiated an open consultation, inviting public and professional opinions on the matter. The focus of this consultation is to review potential changes that could be made to tackle youth vaping.

A key proposal under scrutiny involves restricting the sale of disposable vapes and certain e-liquid flavours popular among younger audiences. This move is to deter the youth from initiating vaping and is aimed at extinguishing the trend before it turns into a habit.

The government is also considering changes in the packaging and point-of-sale regulations in an attempt to further discourage underage use of vaping devices. As such, these discussions highlight the government's commitment to preserving the benefits of vaping for adult smokers, while actively taking measures to prevent underage vaping.

A UK without Smokers in the Future

In an ambitious attempt to create a smoke-free generation, the UK government has declared that those who are currently 14 years of age will never be legally permitted to buy tobacco products. This innovative strategy involves raising the legal age to buy tobacco yearly, thus implying that the age group of 14-year-olds will always be considered underage for buying tobacco.

The government's rationale for this decision stems from a two-fold objective. First, it seeks to break the cycle of addiction by preventing the initiation of smoking at an early age, a time when many habitual smokers start. Second, it aims to protect the health of the nation's youth by preventing access to harmful tobacco products.

Whether this will solve the issue, considering that smoking is illegal under the age of 18 and yet under 18's are still accessing cigarettes; perhaps the issue is not so much the legal age but enforcement.

Proposed Changes & Amendments: An Overview

The government has proposed a series of changes aiming to curb underage vaping without impeding adult smokers' transition to potentially less harmful alternatives. These proposed changes include:

Flavour restrictions: The government is considering limiting the availability of certain e-liquid flavours that are particularly appealing to the youth. The intent is to make vaping less attractive to younger audiences while preserving the option for adults looking to quit smoking.

Revised descriptions: To ensure that flavour descriptions are not supposedly appealing to children, restrictions are likely to be placed on these also.

Packaging regulations: There may be new regulations around the packaging of vape products. This could involve plain packaging, much like traditional tobacco products, or the inclusion of more explicit health warnings.

Point of sale controls: The government may also introduce stricter controls on where and how vape products can be sold. This might include stricter age verification checks and restrictions on displays in shops, making it harder for underage individuals to access these items.

Restricting sales of disposable vapes: As disposable vapes are often more accessible and cheaper, they are a popular choice among younger users. The government is looking at restricting the sale of these devices to discourage their use by underaged individuals.

To sum things up

As we look ahead, 2024 promises to be a pivotal year for the vaping industry in the UK. Not only will we see the implementation and impact of the proposed regulatory changes, but the ongoing public discourse and research around vaping's health implications will continue to shape its future.

The year could herald an era of more stringent enforcement of age restrictions, marking a significant shift in the efforts to curb underage vaping. However, in this quest for regulation, the government mustn't lose sight of vaping's potential as a smoking cessation tool.

To truly realise a smoke-free generation, the focus needs to be not merely on limiting access but more importantly on diligent enforcement and public education. It is only through such a comprehensive approach that we can hope to strike a balance between making vaping less appealing to the youth and more accessible to adult smokers seeking healthier alternatives.