Merseyside health officials call for a country-wide ban on ‘dangerous’ vapes

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“We find the attempt to make vapes ‘cool’ amongst children disgraceful.”

Local health officials have joined forces to call for a country-wide ban on disposable vapes, as well as additional restrictions on advertising and marketing of the nicotine-filled devices. They say vapes may have unidentified ingredients that could be harmful.

Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside’s nine local council areas – Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Warrington and Wirral – have issued a statement expressing their concern about vaping, particularly the number of children becoming addicted to nicotine.

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In the statement, the health officials say they understand the need for vaping in relation to quitting smoking, but vapes should not be considered risk-free. They explain: “Quite simply: smoking kills, and we are only supportive of the use of vapes when they are used as a tool to give up smoking for life.

“Whilst vapes are sometimes advertised as a risk-free alternative to smoking, we do not yet know the long-term effects of regular vaping. In the short term, using vapes can cause coughing, headaches, dizziness and sore throats. Some vapes also contain nicotine, which is incredibly addictive, and is why they should only be used as a tool to stop smoking.”

Concerns: Sharing concerns such as ‘1.3 million vapes being thrown away each week in the UK, and poorer quality vaping products readily available on the high street’, the directors say tobacco compaines are purposefully targetting children.

The statement reads: “It is unacceptable that colourful, covetable, plastic vapes are permeating children’s lives and setting them up for a life-long dangerous smoking habit.

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“We find the attempt to make vapes ‘cool’ amongst children disgraceful. We have no doubt that aggressive marketing and advertising strategies from tobacco companies, like offering a variety of enticing flavourings and colours, are to blame. Why else would vape manufacturers sell flavours named after sweets, if not to target children?

“We are also acutely aware of many companies shamelessly exploiting legal loopholes in order to give away free vapes to children, which is currently not considered to be ‘marketing’. This activity needs to stop, so that our young people can grow up to live longer and healthier lives, protected from harm.”

The nine Directors of Public Health in Cheshire and Merseyside are calling for:

  • A complete country-wide ban on the sale of disposable vapes, for the sake of the environment and our young people.
  • Additional restrictions and rules around the advertising and marketing of vapes, including around design and flavours, so that it can be promoted only as a smoking cessation tool for adults.
  • A significant increase in fines for retailers selling illicit vaping products and vapes to those aged under 18.
  • An urgent response from the Department of Health and Social Care on when the promised £3 million ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ will be formed.
  • The introduction of a consultation around the regulation and licensing of vapes, so that they are sold by approved retailers for the purpose they were originally designed for.
  • Increasing the power and capacity of local Trading Standards teams to enforce new regulations and licensing.

Your thoughts: Local residents also shared their concerns about vaping, even as a tool to quit smoking, with LiverpoolWorld, with many worrying about the unknown long-term health effects.

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  • One person said: “How do we know the long term effects of vaping because it usually ends up a smoker just swaps one for the other.”
  • Another said: “People use them as fashion statement these days, seen kids using them.”
  • Another added: “I’ve recently quit smoking and vaping isn’t stopping you from smoking, it’s giving you a new addiction.”

Banning flavoured vapes: In many countries, including India, Brazil and Argentina, vapes are completely illegal. In many US states, disposable vapes are allowed, however, there are bans on flavoured vapes, which many believe are used to entice children. We asked Merseyside residents whether they believe flavoured vapes should be banned. These were some of the responses:

  • “Yes. You could only buy cigarettes in tobacco or menthol, you couldn’t buy strawberry and all the other daft flavors what they have for e-cigs. That’s why all the youngsters are vaping. It’s attracting more youngsters to vape. You walk past a group of youngsters with these vapes and and it looks like a train is behind them with all the smoke off the vapes.”
  • “No... higher the age.”
  • “I saw school kids with them last week walking to school, where are the parents?”

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