London: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his shock at reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of schoolchildren as he announced a clamp down this week. While selling vapes to under 18s is illegal in the country, businesses have been found to be targeting children with colourful packaging of free samples.
The UK government has also announced that there will be a review into banning retailers selling “nicotine-free” vapes to under-18s.
“I am deeply concerned about the sharp rise in kids vaping and shocked by reports of illicit vapes containing lead getting into the hands of school children,” said Rishi Sunak.
“Our new illicit vape enforcement squad – backed by GBP 3 million – is on the case, but clearly there is more to do. That is why I am taking further action today to clamp down on rogue firms who unlawfully target our children with these products,” he said.
The marketing and the illegal sales of vapes to children is completely unacceptable and I will do everything in my power to end this practice for good,” added the father of two schoolgirls.
The clamp down follows recent National Health Service (NHS) figures for 2021 showing that 9 per cent of 11 to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes or vapes, up from 6 per cent in 2018.
The Department of Health and Social Care said there will also be a review into the rules on issuing fines to shops selling vapes to under 18s illegally to allow local Trading Standards authorities to issue on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices more easily.
This will aim to complement existing fine and penalty procedures, and where possible cover both illegal and underage sales for vapes and tobacco. Where gaps are identified, the government said action will be taken to close them.