Vaping policy must be as strong as smoking plans, says Children’s Commissioner
A ban on vapes must be as strong as the one proposed for smoking, the Children’s Commissioner for England has said.
Dame Rachel de Souza said “we need shop fronts cleared” of vapes and that proper regulation is required for the products, which have exploded in popularity among young people.
The Government launched an eight-week consultation on Thursday seeking views on how vapes can be used by smokers wanting to quit, but at the same time lessen their appeal to under-18s.
Among the options being considered are a complete ban on disposable vapes, restricting their sale, or ensuring they cannot be sold in an array of flavours and colours that might appeal to youngsters.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to phase out smoking by raising the age for buying cigarettes by a year every year, meaning those aged 14 now will never be able to purchase them legally.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast on Sunday, Dame Rachel said: “When I go round the country and I talk to thousands of children, one of the number one things they tell me that they’re concerned about is vaping.
“I see the health consequences of that, often severe, and I also have kids telling me all the time that they’re scared to go to the toilets because the big ones are vaping.
“This is a real issue, it’s an epidemic and it’s affecting children’s health and wellbeing and I think it’s been hidden from view, so we really do need to act on it.”
Dame Rachel said some children are having severe physical reactions to vapes and the issue of addiction to the products is hugely concerning.
She continued: “We don’t know the long-term health issues but they cannot be good, especially when children are running and hiding in the toilets because they are so addicted.
“We really do need as strong a ban on these as there is going to be on smoking. We need to make sure this is taken just as seriously.”
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said on Thursday there had been a three-fold increase in the number of children using vapes, and that one in five children has tried vapes at some point.
Published: by Radio NewsHub