Rachael Maskell MP for York Central
Rachael Maskell MP for York Central

Rachael Maskell MP has spoken out in Parliament to call for a complete ban on the advertising used by the vaping industry to promote its products.

Ms Maskell used the Under-age Vaping Debate to outline a series of reforms the Government needs to implement to make vaping far less attractive to young people. These include not only a total ban on advertising but also removing easy access, introducing plain packaging, and making flavours and the shape of some vapes less attractive (such as vapes in the shape of toy fidget spinners).

Findings by the charity ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) have found that In March/April 2023 the proportion of children experimenting with vaping had grown by 50% year on year, from one in thirteen to one in nine.

Further, they report that children’s awareness of promotion of vapes has also grown, particularly in shops where more than half of all children report seeing e-cigarettes being promoted, and online where nearly a third report e-cigarette promotion. Only one in five children now say they never see vapes promoted, down from 31% last year. A staggering 30% of children and young people in Yorkshire have tried vaping, higher than anywhere in the country.

Having worked in the NHS for over 20 years, Ms Maskell is extremely concerned at the levels of young people taking up vaping as not only is nicotine highly addictive, but E-cigarettes can also contain other harmful substances.

Despite it being illegal to sell the devices to under-18s, research indicates a steep rise in underage vaping over the last five years, with the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who say they use e-cigarettes doubling in the past 12 months alone.

Ms Maskell says –

“I spoke in this important debate to add my voice to the growing number of health and children’s charities and child respiratory doctors calling for a total ban on vape/e-cigarette advertising.

“Whilst across the health sector it is widely recognised that vaping is a safer alternative to smoking, we must recognise that what is going on today with the industry is something completely different to when ‘Cig-a-like’ products were first introduced as a smoking-cessation tool to help adult smokers to quit.

“Today we are seeing an industry aggressively advertising to children and young people, using child-friendly packaging, bright colours and sweet treat flavours such as banana milkshake and jelly babies, which can contain the highest concentration of nicotine allowed in the UK.

“Evidence shows that that brains of children and young people are wired differently from adults and so they get addicted to nicotine much faster than an adult. It really is a huge concern especially because we don’t yet know the long-term effects of vaping, including some of the other toxins inhaled, especially on young people. Children and young people are therefore rapidly becoming addicted to vapes and some are taking ill, including admitted to hospital, because of the quantity of nicotine they are inhaling.

“The Government need to call time on this, as a matter of urgency, and put in firm regulations on the vaping industry so that children and young people are no longer exploited. Profit should never come before our young people’s health and without a full and extensive response from the Government this will continue to be the case.

“As with decades previous, with the sale of cigarettes, the vaping industry is set on recruiting a new generation of addicts, that then depend on their products, which then turns into significant profits.

“I have spoken to public health leaders in the city of York to ensure that we have robust public health practices in place, including in our schools, to prevent the further take up of vaping by young people, and adults who currently do not smoke.”

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