Disposable vapes are to be banned to help protect children, reports suggest.
Ministers are said to be drawing up plans to ban disposable vapes, which are said to be targeted at those under 18.
Single-use vapes are sold in bright colours, and come in sweet and fruity flavours like pink lemonade, gummy bear and watermelon.
It comes after a number of leading doctors have called for action to protect the health of children.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the decision to ban disposable vapes will be revealed in a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Science and Technology Secretary Michelle Donelan did not deny the reports.
She told Sky News: “We have been looking into this and have been doing a review because this is a very worrying trend that we’re seeing of young children taking up vaping that had never smoked before, and it is extremely dangerous to their health and their wellbeing.
“It’s something that we do need to act on and, as a Government, what we’re trying to do is recognise what are the key challenges and grip them.”
Asked whether the Government will be banning single-use vapes next week, she said: “We’ll be making further announcements on that.”
Youth vaping is fast becoming an epidemic, with disposable e-cigarettes the top choice for children and young people.
We're calling for a ban on disposable e-cigarette products to protect children's health and the environment. #BanDisposableVapes
— RCPCH (@RCPCHtweets) June 6, 2023
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health has previously called for a ban on disposable vapes as it warned that “youth vaping is fast becoming an epidemic among children”.
The College warned that e-cigarettes “are not a risk-free product and can be just as addictive, if not more so than traditional cigarettes”.
It called for urgent action to protect youngsters, saying experts agree that longer-term data is needed on the effects of vaping.
Earlier this month figures from the Office for National Statistics showed a large increase in vaping among teenagers and young adults in Britain.
E-cigarette use was highest among those aged 16 to 24 years in Great Britain.
The percentage in this age group who are daily or occasional vapers in 2022 increased to 15.5% compared with 11.1% in 2021.
— Office for National Statistics (ONS) (@ONS) September 5, 2023
In 2022 some 15.5% of 16 to 24-year-olds vaped daily or occasionally, up from 11.1% in 2021.
NHS figures also show a rise in the number of children admitted to hospital due to vaping.
Forty children and young people were admitted to hospital in England last year due to “vaping-related disorders”, which could include lung damage or worsening asthma symptoms, up from 11 two years earlier, the NHS said.
England’s chief medical officer, Professor Sir Chris Whitty, has said previously: “If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape; marketing vapes to children is utterly unacceptable.”
The key points about vaping (E-cigarettes) can be easily summarised.
If you smoke, vaping is much safer; if you don’t smoke, don’t vape; marketing vapes to children is utterly unacceptable.
I expand on these points in the article below. https://t.co/S6hrC0Y7BF
— Professor Chris Whitty (@CMO_England) May 30, 2023
There have also been calls for disposable vapes to be banned to protect the environment.
Recycling campaign group Material Focus said five million disposable vapes are thrown away every week.
More than seven million single-use vapes are bought every week in the UK – double the amount bought in 2022, it said, but only 17% of people correctly recycle their vapes in a shop or local recycling centre.
The group warned that vapes are toxic and can be damaging to the environment and wildlife if littered.
When not disposed of correctly, they can also cause fires because of the batteries hidden inside them.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “We are concerned about the rise in youth vaping and the environmental impacts of disposable vapes.
“That is why we launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vaping products – and explore where the Government can go further.
“We will set out our response in due course.”
It comes after a new study suggested that vapes could potentially be being used as a coping mechanism for stress among teenagers and young adults.
Researchers from Canada found that 15 to 30-year-olds who vape are twice as likely to report chronic stress compared with their peers who do not vape.
But officials working on the proposals will also be considering the impact it could have on smokers trying to quit.
New research found that vapes are the best way to kick the habit and those who use them are more than twice as likely to stop smoking compared with those who go cold turkey.
The Cochrane Review found that only six out of every 100 people who try to give up smoking without any quit aids are successful at kicking the habit, but 14 out of 100 are successful when they use vapes.
Twelve out of 100 quit attempts were successful when people used dual nicotine replacement therapy, such as combining a patch with gum.
Simon Clark from the smokers’ lobbying group Forest said: “If the Government’s aim is to reduce smoking rates, banning disposable vapes would be a significant own goal.
“Vaping has been a huge success story, with millions of smokers choosing to switch to a product that is far less risky to their health.”
Independent British Vape Trade Association chairman Marcus Saxton said while there were valid concerns about children buying vapes from retailers who break the law, it was difficult to envisage how a complete ban would be workable.
“Alternative refillable and rechargeable products are available, and we need to see greater uptake of the recycling facilities available on every high street,” he said.
“But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that for adults, single use vapes are important to the initial quit journey away from smoking due to their ease of use.”