Liverpool health leaders back government vape ban

A government move to ban disposable vapes has been received warmly by Liverpool health leaders.

It was confirmed on Sunday how ministers would seek to stop the sale of disposable vapes, restrict vape flavours and introduce plain packaging mirroring how cigarettes are now sold. A new law could also be introduced by the end of the year to prevent the sale of tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.

Prof Matt Ashton, Liverpool’s director of public health, has been among those calling for a ban on disposable vapes and said amid the eye-opening report into the state of city’s health earlier this month, such a change in policy was “clearly needed”.

As part of a drive to protect children’s health and cut out youth smoking, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak confirmed the government would seek to bring in fines for those who sell vapes illegally to children. Trading standards officers will be empowered to act ‘on the spot’ to tackle underage tobacco and vape sales.

Responding to the announcement, Prof Ashton said, “I very much welcome the announcement that the government is taking this much-needed action on vaping and smoking. We know from our recent State of Health in the City report that by 2040 we face huge health challenges, and tobacco is one of the three leading drivers of ill-health, so policies such as which will improve public health over the coming decades are clearly needed.

“However, we also need to see strong legislation in place to make sure that retailers selling illegal vapes and cigarettes to those under-age are deterred from doing so, and the resources for local government to enforce the legislation effectively.”

In the last eight months, tens of thousands of illegal vapes with a street value of almost a quarter of a million pounds have been seized across Liverpool. The latest operation has led to the seizure of more than 1,000 contraband vapes with a street value of £12,000.

Cllr Harry Doyle, cabinet member for public health, said, “This is really good news and will help tackle the aggressive marketing and advertising techniques used by tobacco companies such as selling flavours named after sweets to make them attractive to younger people. We are really concerned about the number of people taking up vaping who previously had not smoked, particularly as we do not know the long-term effects. 

“There is also the damage to the environment, as up to five million are currently being thrown away every single week in the UK, blighting our neighbourhoods with vapes and packaging dropped on the ground. All the evidence that we have is that smoking is singularly the most harmful habit for your health, so the move to ban smoking for anyone born from 2009 onwards is also to be welcomed.”

Support for people who need help quitting smoking or vaping can be found at https://www.smokefreeliverpool.co.uk/

Image: Yahya Boudi

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