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Closed petition Don’t ban flavoured e-liquids for e-cigarettes

We would like the Government to not ban flavoured e-liquids for e-cigarettes. We believe the vaping industry has helped many people quit cigarettes which contain tobacco - a product which is single handily responsible for over 8 million deaths a year across the globe (estimated by WHO).

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We believe banning flavoured e-liquids will reduce incentives to switch to vaping, which can help people live longer, healthier lives. Current vapers may decide to return to smoking and become part of the 8 million who sadly die from smoking related diseases each year.

We can get behind the disposable ban, but we believe that banning flavours isn't the answer. We think this could risk a pandemic of underage smokers getting their products from the black market.

This petition closed early because of a General Election Find out more on the Petitions Committee website

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Government responded

This response was given on 12 March 2024

To address the rise in youth vaping, vape flavours that appeal to children will be restricted. We will consult further, being mindful of the role flavours can play in supporting adult smokers quit.

Read the response in full

The health advice is clear – if you don’t smoke, don’t vape and children should never vape.

There has been an alarming rise in youth vaping in recent years. The number of children vaping has tripled in the last 3 years and 1 in 5 children have used a vape. Given the potential health risks of nicotine, it is important that we protect our children from underage vaping, while their lungs and brains are still developing.

Evidence shows that vapes appeal to children and are too easily accessible and affordable. For example, a frequently used vape flavouring for children is ‘fruit flavour’ with 60% of current children using them. 17% of children who vape choose sweet flavours such as chocolate or candy and 4.8% choose to vape energy or soft drink flavours. Research has also been carried out that shows flavours are an important factor in motivating young people to start vaping (Flavors increase adolescents' willingness to try nicotine and cannabis vape products - PubMed (nih.gov) - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36963159/.

In the Government’s recent Call for Evidence on youth vaping (2023) our analysis found that 66% of respondents stated that sweet or fruity flavours was the main appeal of vape flavours to children. Flavours can also often entice children to try vaping through how they are described, for example 'fiery flavoured strawberry' and 'berry blast', sweet flavours that children may be familiar with. Reducing the range of vape flavours, therefore, and specifically restricting those flavours that most appeal to children, has the potential to significantly reduce the number of children who are vaping.

However, we also recognise the importance of vape flavours to adult smokers that are looking to quit smoking. Research on e-cigarette support for smoking cessation by London South Bank University has found that there is evidence that flavoured vaping products can also help adults quit smoking. The use of flavoured vapes in smokers has also increased as shown by Action on Smoking and Health (Use of e-cigarettes among adults in Great Britain - ASH https://ash.org.uk/resources/view/use-of-e-cigarettes-among-adults-in-great-britain-2021). In 2015, most adults who vaped used tobacco flavour. However, in recent years there has been a shift, and in 2023 more adults are choosing fruit flavours (47%), as well as mint and menthol (17%), and tobacco (12%).

The Government is, therefore, legislating to take powers to restrict the range of vape flavours and how they are described in the future. This will sit alongside a range of measures to reduce illicit underage vaping, including restricting vape packaging and where vapes can be displayed within a shop. The collective aim of these measures is to reduce the appeal and accessibility of vapes to children, whilst ensuring that vapes remain an option for adult smokers looking to quit.

Future restrictions on vape flavours will be subject to further analysis and consultation before any regulations are laid in Parliament for debate. To avoid unintended consequences on smoking rates, the scope of these restrictions will be carefully considered and weighed against evidence.

In terms of a potential risk to the illicit market, history shows that when we have introduced targeted tobacco control measures, whether through tighter legal controls or stronger enforcement, they have had a positive impact on tackling the problems of illicit tobacco. For example, when the age of sale for smoking was increased from 16 to 18 in 2007, this created 1.3 million more people who were no longer able to be sold cigarettes, and in theory would be in the market for illegal cigarettes. However, in practice, the number of illicit cigarettes consumed fell by 25% from 10 billion in 2005/06 to 7.5 billion in 2007/08.

In April 2023, the government announced £3 million of investment to enhance work on illicit vapes enforcement, led by National Trading Standards, building on existing work by trading standards officers across the country.

The government committed to increasing investment for our enforcement agencies by £30 million per year. This additional funding in England will boost agencies such as local trading standards to enforce the new age of sale and vaping measures. It will also scale up HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and Border Force activity to stamp out opportunities for criminals in the illicit tobacco trade.

Of this funding, £100 million over 5 years will support HMRC and Border Force’s new Illicit Tobacco Strategy.

We would encourage petitioners and others to respond to this future consultation once it is published.

Department of Health and Social Care