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The RCP responds to the government’s consultation on creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has submitted a response to the government’s consultation on creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping.

In October, the prime minister announced his intention in a command paper to pass legislation to end the sale of cigarettes to those born on or after 1 January 2009, and measures to tackle youth vaping. The RCP welcomed the announcement.  

A consultation was launched in the same month, seeking the views of the public on the legislative measures needed to create this smokefree generation and tackle youth vaping, as well as new enforcement powers to support these laws.

This consultation followed an initial call for evidence on youth vaping in spring this year.

The RCP has made a submission to the consultation, and our main points were:

  • We strongly support the introduction of legislation to create a smokefree generation, as well as a legal requirement for retailers to request proof of age of all those who buy tobacco.
  • Given the importance of vaping in smoking cessation efforts, e-cigarettes should remain accessible to adults wanting to quit smoking, but we support measures to limit their accessibility and appeal to children and never smokers.
  • We support the introduction of measures to discourage uptake of vaping among young people, such as standardised packaging, regulating point of sale displays, and restricting the use of flavour descriptors that are often marketed towards children.
  • The RCP does not recommend the wholesale limiting of flavours accessible to adults. The RCP supports the use of a range of flavours, including fruit flavours, to enable smoking cessation in adults. The use of flavours by adults trying to quit smoking is an integral part of the effectiveness of vaping as a quit aid. Government should restrict flavour descriptors rather than flavours themselves.
  • We supported the recommendation put forward by ASH to raise the price of disposable vaping products, the products most used by children, by implementing an excise tax, rather than prohibiting them entirely.
  • We strongly support the banning of giving free vaping products to people under the age of 18 and welcome that government has announced that it will close the legal loophole allowing free vapes to be given to children.
  • We also made several recommendations to help tackle the challenges of vape recycling, including; amending waste electrical and battery regulations to include disposable vapes ensuring vendors comply with recycling costs for vapes; providing accessible drop-off points and amending product standards, descriptors and notification to the MHRA to support recycling.
  • Further consultation with Trading Standards must take place to determine the appropriate level of enforcement for breaches of age of sale legislation for tobacco products and vapes.

The RCP will be launching a new report on e-cigarettes in 2024.