Vapes could be made prescription-only under Labour: Radical plan could stop kids getting hooked on ‘gateway drug’
- Move would follow that of Australia, which made vapes prescription only in 2021
- READ MORE: Woman needs a life-saving blood transfusion after vaping ONCE
Vapes could be made prescription-only under radical plans being contemplated by Labour.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said he wanted to introduce the Australian-style measures to stop children getting hooked on nicotine.
Despite the devices being legally restricted for sale to over-18s only, data shows nearly one in 10 children in England use the devices, with a fifth having tried a vape this year.
But critics say Labour’s proposal risks removing the only health benefit vapes have as a smoking cessation and getting Brits to quit more harmful tobacco.
Mr Streeting’s comments comes as the Conservatives are in the midst of their own pledge to tackle child-vaping.
Shadow health secretary Wes Streeting said Labour could make vapes prescription-only to stop children getting hooked on nicotine
NHS Digital data shows the number of children who are current vapers has soared in recent years, jumping from 6 per cent in 2018 to 9 per cent in 2021
NHS Digital data, based on the smoking, drinking and drug use among young people in England survey for the year 2021, showed 30 per cent of children in Yorkshire and the Humber have used a vape
In an ongoing consultation, ministers are proposing to ban child-friendly flavours and marketing, and crackdown on the disposable devices favoured by youngsters.
Mr Streeting accused ‘Big Tobacco’ and the vaping industry of ‘crying crocodile tears’ about the child vaping epidemic.
He said the vaping industry should be forced to ‘go back to its roots’ as providing a smoking cessation aid that is only available to those trying to quit.
Mr Streeting was recently in Australia, which has embarked on similar prescription-only policy for the devices since 2021.
He told The Telegraph that after meeting with Australia’s health minister he was now considering a similar move for England should his party come to power.
READ MORE: Woman, 21, needs a life-saving blood transfusion after vaping ONCE caused ‘acute chest syndrome’
The woman needed a blood transfusion after using a vape. She suffers from sickle cell disease, with those with this genetic condition advised to steer clear of vapes
‘I’m outraged at the extent to which this irresponsible industry has peddled itself as an altruistic smoking cessation service, at the same time as addicting a generation of children’s nicotine,’ he said.
‘I’m looking very carefully at what Mark Butler and the Australian Labor government have announced.
‘Their policy is in part driven by the evidence here in Australia that vaping has become a gateway drug to smoking. So I think we need to look carefully at what the UK evidence is on that front.’
He didn’t commit to any specific measures for a Labour plan on vaping but said as it is better than smoking it has a role to play in getting Brits to quit traditional tobacco.
John Dunne, director general of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), said the Labour plan would simply drive people to the black market like it has in Australia.
‘The idea of having vapes only available on prescription has in Australia created a huge black market with unregulated and potentially unsafe vapes widely available,’ he said.
He added data showed that vapes weren’t a gateway to smoking, with rates having fallen over the years.
While Mr Dunne acknowledged child vaping was a problem, he said it needed to be tackled by penalising people who sell the devices to children.
UKVIA is deeply opposed to Conservatives proposals to ban child-friendly flavours as well as disposable devices.
The body claims research shows 80 per cent of vapers said the flavours offered by manufactures helped them quit smoking, with a third saying a ban could lead them back to using cigarettes.
Some flavours of vapes, like those replicating types of candy, could be banned under new Government plans. Pictured here are devices MailOnline discovered mimicking Chupa Chups, Skittles, Jolly Rancher, Rubicon and Calypso (pictured), with near-identical branding to the popular sweets and drinks
Experts have stressed their concern at children not being fully aware of the contents of e-cigarettes, with many so anxious for their next ‘fix’ they are begging teachers to let them vape at school
One in 10 Estonian’s now vape regularly each month, cementing its position as the e-cigarette capital of the world, fresh data revealed this week. Published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) — a forum of 37 countries with market-based economies founded in 1961 — it also found just four countries rank higher than the UK
UKVIA also said the Government proposals would hit adult vapers, with fruit flavours also popular among people aged 35 to 44.
They also said the average age of someone who uses a disposable vape is 39.
Earlier this week health minister Andrea Leadsom said the Government will bring forward its proposals to tackle child-vaping as legislation ‘as soon as possible’ in the new year.
Speaking in the House of Commons, she said: ‘We all know it is an offence to sell vapes to children under 18, yet one in five children has tried a vape in 2023 alone. The numbers trying it have tripled in the last three years.’
‘We know the industry is targeting children quite cynically. It is unacceptable, so our Tobacco and Vapes Bill will restrict the appeal and availability of vapes to children.’
According to the research platform Our World In Data, 13.7 per cent of New Zealanders smoked in 2020 compared to 15.4 per cent of Brits and 23 per cent of Americans
MailOnline previously exposed the predatory tactics some sweet shops use to sell e-cigs to kids.
E-cigs allow people to inhale nicotine in a vapour — which is produced by heating a liquid, which typically contains propylene glycol, glycerine, flavourings, and other chemicals.
But unlike traditional cigarettes, they do not contain tobacco, nor do they produce tar or carbon — two of the most dangerous elements.
Although widely viewed as safer than smoking, the long-term effects of vaping still remain a mystery.
Doctors have expressed fear there could be a wave of lung disease, dental issues and even cancer in the coming decades in people who took up the habit at a young age.
Earlier this year, leading paediatricians warned children were being hospitalised with vaping-induced breathing difficulties amid a ‘disturbing’ epidemic of the habit among young people.
NHS figures also show a rise in the number of children admitted to hospital due to vaping.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics in September show around 4.5million Brits vape daily or occasionally — a rise of some 500,000 in just 12 months.
Everything you need to know about e-cigarettes
How much nicotine is in an e-cigarette?
There are many different brands of e-cigarettes, containing various different nicotine levels.
The legal amount of nicotine in an e-liquid capacity in the UK is 20mg/ml equating to between 600 and 800 puffs.
The Elf Bar 600, one of Britain’s most popular vapes, is advertised as coming in nicotine strengths of 0mg, 10mg and 20mg.
How many cigarettes are ‘in’ an e-cigarette?
The Elf Bar 600 contains the equivalent to 48 cigarettes, analysts say.
It delivers 600 puffs before it needs to be thrown away, meaning, in theory, every 12.5 puffs equate to one cigarette.
Experts say for many e-cigarettes, 100 puffs equate to ten normal cigarettes.
Elf Bars are a brand of e-cigarettes often sold in snazzy colours and with child-friendly names and flavours, like blue razz lemonade and green gummy bear
Is vaping better for your health than cigarettes?
Vaping products are considered to be better than cigarettes as users are exposed to fewer toxins and at lower levels, according to the NHS.
The health service adds that vaping instead of smoking cigarettes reduces your exposure to toxins that can cause cancer, lung disease and diseases of the heart and circulation, such as strokes and heart attacks.
Public Health England, which is now defunct, published an expert independent review in 2015 concluding that e-cigarettes are around 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.
However vaping is not risk-free, as while levels in tobacco-products are much higher, e-cigarettes still contain harmful toxins, according to a study by researchers from the Medical University of Silesia in Poland.
And Dr Onkar Mudhar, a London dentist who posts videos on TikTok, said Elf bars can cause gum inflammation, swelling and bleeding.
He said this is because nicotine dries out your mouth and reduces saliva, causing irritation from a build-up of bacteria and food that can’t get washed away.
Nearly 350 hospitalisations due to vaping were logged in England in 2022, which are thought to be mainly down to respiratory problems, such as shortness of breath, chest pain, lung inflammation and, in severe cases, respiratory failure.
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