NI Health Department to make “necessary preparations” for future vaping ban
With the announcement that disposable vapes are to be banned in a bid to tackle underage vaping, the Department of Health here has said it will make preparations to allow any incoming NI Assembly to legislate on it.
As part of an ambitious government plan to tackle the rise in youth vaping and protect children’s health, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops so they don’t appeal to children.
In addition, a new law will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1st January 2009, delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to create a smokefree generation.
Vaping alternatives, such as nicotine pouches, will also be outlawed for children who are increasingly turning to these substitutes.
The measure comes as part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year.
Northern Ireland had been included in the eight-week consultation process, with comments welcome from anyone of any age.
The consultation closed on 6th December and received 27,921 responses, including over 1200 from Northern Ireland. The report showed strong support for the proposed measures across the UK and particularly in Northern Ireland.
‘LONG-STANDING STRATEGIC AIM’
In accordance with the provisions that are available, the Department of Health has said it will make the necessary preparations to allow incoming Ministers and the NI Assembly to take a decision on introducing the regulations in Northern Ireland.
In a statement, the Department said it has a “long-standing strategic aim for a tobacco-free Northern Ireland”.
“Tobacco use continues to cause around 2200 deaths in Northern Ireland each year. Alongside the immeasurable human costs, our hospitals spend approximately £200 million treating tobacco-related conditions each year.
“Tobacco use is a huge threat to public health, but it is a threat that is entirely preventable,” they added.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) has said the ban on disposable vapes will only fuel illicit sales.
“Banning disposable vapes in the UK will not help people give up smoking and vaping but will fuel the illicit market,” said the Fed.
The National President of the Fed, Muntazir Dipoti said that while they agree action is needed, they do not believe banning disposable vapes is the way to go about it.
“An outright ban will simply send youngsters towards unorthodox and illicit sources where there is no compliance to tobacco and vaping laws, while the products they peddle are likely to contain dangerous and illegal levels of toxic chemicals,” he said.
To clamp down on young people vaping, the government needed to make more financial resources available for educational campaigns, while more enforcement activity was required, especially at borders to prevent counterfeit products entering the market, Mr Dipoti added.
“Vape retailers are responsible and offer a recycling option, but the government should be looking at making available more ways to safely recycle disposable vapes,” he said.