OPINION - Talking Point: Will changing vape packaging reduce addiction?
Colourful packaging and fruity flavourings are being used to target teenagers into buying e-cigarettes, a study by researchers at King’s College London has found.
Health experts found that demand among young people to purchase vapes would be reduced if their packaging became stripped back through standardisation and removing brand imagery.
Data from Action on Smoking and Health showed that the proportion of children between the ages of 11 and 17 who currently vape increased from 4% in 2020 to 7% last year.
Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, has criticised the marketing of e-cigarettes to young people, saying some products were clearly designed to attract children.
Dr Katherine East, the study’s senior author from King’s College London, said: “Vapes, and nicotine products in general, should be available to adults who smoke to help them to stop smoking but should not be used by non-smokers under the age of 18.
“Some current e-cigarette packaging has eye-catching and enticing designs. Our study found that removing brand imagery from packs reduced appeal of vapes to teenagers without reducing appeal to adults.”
She added: “This is a vital difference, as it means that vapes can still appeal to adults as a tool to stop smoking, particularly because our previous research has established vaping as significantly less harmful than smoking.”
Although vaping is much less harmful than smoking traditional cigarettes, the NHS says the long-term effects of vaping remain unknown.
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