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As members of the UK vaping community and advocates for responsible vaping, Our Vape Advocacy acknowledges this week’s reading of the Tobacco & Vapes Bill in Parliament. The Government’s move to ban disposable vapes is a crucial step in addressing the surge of underage vaping and the environmental impact of these products. We fully support this ban, as it aligns with our commitment to safeguard public health and uphold industry standards.

However, further legislative action must address our industry’s persistent issues. Building on the positive steps already taken, it is imperative to identify and rectify additional regulatory gaps and inconsistencies that undermine our efforts to combat underage vaping and curb illicit market activities. In this context, Wes Streeting, Shadow Health Secretary, has strongly criticised the Government’s inaction, stating that Labour will “come down like a ton of bricks” on the vaping industry if the present administration does not “pull its finger out” and introduce regulations. He accused Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of leading a government that has been “asleep at the wheel” as a generation of children become addicted to nicotine.

In light of Wes Streeting’s call for robust regulatory action and the expressed need to wake up to the issues of underage nicotine addiction, it is evident that specific measures must be put in place to strengthen our regulatory framework. Our Vape Advocacy proposes the following critical actions to tackle these issues directly:

Closing Loopholes on Illicit Products: Current laws inadvertently support a black market by allowing the importation of illicit products that are not fit for retail. We propose a legislative adjustment to empower Border Force with the authority to seize such products at the point of entry, eliminating this significant loophole.

Uniform Age Verification System: We advocate for a standardised digital age verification system across all retail points. Biometric technology will swiftly and reliably ensure that vape products are sold only to those of legal age, thereby helping to curb underage vaping.

Enhanced Enforcement Measures: We propose establishing a centralised platform for reporting violations within the industry, such as illicit sales, underage sales, and VAT fraud. This system will standardise the submission of complaints to authorities like HMRC or Trading Standards, ensuring efficient and effective enforcement of existing and new regulations.

Reflecting on ongoing discussions, we wish to unequivocally state our opposition to any government proposal for a flavour ban. Such a ban would be a profound mistake, with dire consequences for public health and the vaping industry. Eliminating flavoured vapes risks reversing the progress made by countless individuals who have successfully switched from smoking traditional cigarettes to vaping, potentially driving them back to more harmful smoking habits. Our Vape Advocacy is committed to vigorously contesting any such measures, as we stand firm in our mission to protect the advancements and benefits our industry offers to public health.

Our Vape Advocacy remains dedicated to advocating for policies that enhance public health while supporting the integrity of the vaping industry. We are committed to a collaborative approach, working with government bodies, industry stakeholders, and the community to navigate these challenges. Our collective efforts are essential to develop regulations that not only prevent youth access to vaping products but also support adult smokers in their journey to quit smoking. We stand ready to provide expertise and insights while striving for a balanced approach that benefits all.

Darren Lynch is a director at Our Vape Advocacy

The post Here’s how the government can further tackle underage nicotine addiction appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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