The UK Get Their Say On Proposed Smoke Free Changes

/ 6 min read
The UK Get Their Say On Proposed Smoke Free Changes

As per our previous blog in this series, Rishi Sunak recently delivered a speech which laid out the clear and concise intentions from the Government on the subject of not only combatting smoking rates in England, but also looking at the ongoing youth vaping problem.

It was announced a consultation period would be opened for the next 2 months, which gives the public a platform to give their views and thoughts on the Government’s proposals.

We will explore this consultation, and why it could be crucial for current UK vapers to have their say, as it could very well impact the outcome and mould the future for vaping.

The Government’s Proposals To Create A ‘Smoke Free’ Future For England

On October 4th, a paper was published entitled “Stopping The Start: Our new plan to create a smoke free generation” and was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State For Health and Social Care.

The paper highlights the implications of smoking on public health and present the statistics which shows that tobacco is the single leading preventable cause of mortality resulting in nearly 64,000 deaths every year in England. Not to mention the staggering financial cost both personally and publicly.

This is the catalyst behind the Government’s desire introduce new laws surrounding the legal smoking age which would stop anyone born in or after 2009 from every legally being allowed to buy tobacco products.

By doing this, it will stop a new generation of smokers from forming and instead the focus can shift on to helping the current generation of smokers quit smoking by offering more funding and help to localised Stop Smoking services which are funded by the NHS.

Preventing Underage Vaping Use

Alongside the new tobacco controls, vaping and e-cigarettes were also included in the Government’s plans.

The volume of underage users of E-Cigarettes here in England is becoming problematic, and youth vaping has seen a consistent rise year on year since 2020, with the amount of under-18s using vapes tripling in volume over the last 3 years.

One of the main causes for these numbers is the stark rise in popularity of disposable vapes since 2020, with them being the most frequently used device among 11–17-year-olds as results from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) surveys have shown.

The message from the Government is clear when it comes to health advice for vaping:

Due to the unknown long-term harms and the nicotine content of e-cigarettes, a small amount of risk is involved with the possibility of lifelong addiction to nicotine forming for young people. Therefore, young people and people who have never smoked should not vape.

Ultimately resulting in a set of proposals on youth vaping being unveiled, and they are as follows:

  • Restricting flavours
  • Regulating POS (point of sale) displays and advertisements
  • Regulating packaging
  • Taking action on the affordability of disposable vapes
  • Considering restricting the supply and sale of disposable vapes
  • Whether or not these should apply to non-nicotine vapes also

The Government acknowledges that these proposals and any outcome of this consultation process must have the biggest impact possible on youth vaping whilst also ensuring that vapes continue to be a support tool for adults using them to quit smoking.

Have Your Say!

The point of having a consultation period opened to the public is for you and everyone else to have their say on the suggestions put forward by the Government, and this one will remain open until December 6th, 2023.

The consultation is a short question-based survey relating to the topic of potential actions being taken to protect future generations from the harm of smoking, as well as preventing a new generation of vapers who have never smoked from forming.

The consultation asks questions in three specific areas for which new legislation would be needed, they are:

  • Creating a smokefree generation
  • Tackling youth vaping
  • Enforcement and introducing new powers for local authorities to issue fixed penalty notices to those who sell to underage persons.

If you want to have your say and answer the survey questions, then follow the link below to participate.

The Potential Outcomes of This Consultation Period

It is unknown what will happen once this consultation period draws to a close so we cannot jump to conclusions or assumptions. We can however use the information we have to-date, and evidence from other countries who have enacted similar plans to speculate about the potential outcomes.

1 – Restriction of Vape Flavours

Arguably one of the biggest things which could happen in this consultation period is a call for the restriction of vape flavours to be introduced.

Whilst this would reduce the appeal to young people, which is the goal here, it may in turn lead to a negative effect on adult vapers who rely on vape flavours to keep them from reverting back to smoking cigarettes.

The Government did acknowledge that these proposals must have the biggest impact possible on youth vaping, whilst also being mindful of vaping’s power as a method of tobacco harm reduction.

2 – Taking Action on The Affordability of Disposable Vapes

If you didn’t already know, Disposable Vapes retail on average between £4 and £6 per device. And more often than not, they’ll be included in multi buy deals at shops such as 2 for £10 etc.

Taking action to increase the prices of these devices would certainly help make an impact on under-18s getting their hands on them, as well as erode the false impression that they are cheaper than other vaping products.

3 – Restricting The Supply and Sale of Disposable Vapes

Totally banning single-use vapes eliminates the potential temptation for underage users.

It’s not just youths who use Disposable Vapes however; ASH survey results showed that a high volume of current adult vapers use Disposable Vapes as their preferred device.

This largely comes down to the convenience factor involved with Disposable Vapes. They’re ready to go straight out of the packet, and no fuss is involved with changing coils or filling up with e liquid like a standard vape device.

Stopping the sale and supply of these could result in adult vapers being stuck in limbo on what to do and may not want to “upgrade” to a device that involves changing coils and refilling with vape juice, despite the staggering economic and environmental benefits of doing so.

Final Thoughts

The next few months will be interesting for the vaping industry to say the least, and going forward into 2024, we could see significant changes to the way we approach alternatives to cigarettes.

If you wanted to have your say during this consultation period, we urge you to take the time to fill out the survey we have linked above.

It really does not take that long, and this is your chance to speak up and say how you feel about what is being proposed in the bid to combat youth vaping and create a smoke free generation here in England.