Tobacco and vaping consultation welcomed but retailers warn against total ban on disposable vape sales
Northern Ireland has been included in a new eight-week consultation which covers proposals to clamp down on the sale and use of vapes by children and young people.
And while the consultation has been welcomed, retailers are issuing a word of caution about a total ban on the selling of disposable vapes.
The UK Government announced the proposals, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stating the proposals would “reverse the worrying rise in youth vaping” by lessening the appeal to young people.
The Department of Health here has a long-standing strategic aim for a tobacco-free Northern Ireland.
Important strides forward have been made including a reduction in smoking prevalence, with adult smoking rates here falling from 24% to 17% over the last 11 years, the Department stated.
However, a recent review of its tobacco control strategy highlighted several remaining challenges, not least the continued preventable premature death and ill-health caused by smoking. Approximately 2,200 people die each year in Northern Ireland from smoking related conditions.
To help inform future decision-making on tobacco policy and legislation, the Department has agreed that NI will be included in the public consultation launched by the Prime Minister.
However, the Federation of Independent Retailers (the Fed) says that while it backs the government’s proposals to tighten up on vape sales to young people, it is warning against an outright ban on disposable vapes.
The Fed’s National President Muntazir Dipoti said: “While we agree with plans to prevent children and young people being attracted to vapes, this must not be at the expense of adults who have switched to these products in a bid to give up smoking.
‘An outright ban on these products would simply create a black market and fuel illicit sales’
“We also want more clarity on what any ‘restrictions’ on disposable vapes would entail. An outright ban on these products would simply create a black market and fuel illicit sales by criminals and unscrupulous traders.
“Vapes help many people give up smoking and are part of life now. I am confident the existing black market will become even more active,” he added.
“These illicit products are already on sale at car boot sales, mobile phone shops, cafes and tanning salons, as well as via the internet and by dealers delivering direct to homes.”
This eight-week UK-wide consultation, which launched on 12th October, will cover proposals to make it illegal for anyone born on or after 1st January 2009 to ever be sold tobacco products at any point in their lives. The consultation will also include a series of proposals to clamp down on the sale and use of vapes by children and young people including restrictions on flavours, display, packaging and disposable vapes.
Comments in response to the public consultation are welcome from anyone, of any age, in Northern Ireland.
The outcome of this consultation will help inform decisions of incoming NI Ministers and the Executive, or in the absence of Ministers, those decisions that can be taken under the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation etc.) Act 2022.