A loophole that allows the e-cigarette industry to distribute free samples to children is to be closed after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak unveiled plans to crack down on companies that target youth vaping.
According to a Health Department press release, the increase in teenage e-cigarette smokers and the recent increase in promotion of these “cheap, colorful products” shows that companies are targeting children, which is the reason for this crackdown.
“My daughters are 10 and 12, and I don’t want the way e-cigarettes are marketed, promoted, and sold to be appealing to them. That’s why today I’m launching a new crackdown campaign to protect children and prosecute dishonest companies and online scammers who put e-cigarettes in their hands,” Mr. Sunak tweeted.
In 2021, 9% of children aged 11-15 used e-cigarettes, up from 6% in 2018, according to National Health Service (NHS) figures.
Spain faces a similar situation. New e-cigarettes shaped like cartoon characters have caused concern in the country as the tobacco industry increasingly tries to reach younger audiences with appealing flavors and designs through tobacco products. e-cigarettes unequally regulated, warned the Spanish National Committee for the Prevention of Smoking.
“We will also review the rules around imposing immediate fines on stores that break the law by selling e-cigarettes to minors, and consider banning the sale of nicotine-free e-cigarettes to those under 18 — including we know they can be a gateway to the use of nicotine-containing products,” said UK Health Minister Neil O’Brien.
“At the same time, our new team specializing in the fight against illicit electronic cigarettes will also tackle online shops that sell illicit electronic cigarettes to young people under the age of 18”, he added.
Professionals in the sector seem to welcome this repression.
“The loophole allowing the distribution of free samples regardless of the age of the consumer is a loophole that no self-respecting company should ever have considered exploiting,” said Gillian Golden, Director General of the Association. Independent British Vape Trade Association.
“We welcome the action taken today by the UK government to tackle youth vaping,” said Joe Murillo, chief regulatory officer at Juul Labs, an e-cigarette maker.
This article is originally published on euractiv.fr