Measures will also be introduced to prevent vapes being marketed at children and to target under-age sales. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak suggested adult smokers trying to quit would still have access to alternatives like vapes under the proposals. The ban is expected to be introduced across the UK, the government said. It is already illegal to sell any vape to anyone under 18, but disposable vapes - often sold in smaller, more colourful packaging than refillable ones - are a "key driver behind the alarming rise in youth vaping", according to the government. Figures from the Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) charity suggest 7.6% of 11 to 17-year-olds now vape regularly or occasionally, up from 4.1% in 2020.
Announcing the plans on Monday, Mr Sunak said it was right that "strong action" was taken to stamp out vaping in children.
"Children shouldn't be vaping, we don't want them to get addicted, we still don't understand the full long-term health impacts," he said.
'Maintain vapes for adult smokers'
Mr Sunak suggested the proposals struck the right balance between restricting access for children and maintaining access for adult smokers trying to quit smoking."It is important that we maintain vapes for adult smokers who want to stop," the Prime Minister continued, adding that he wanted to target "all the things that make sure children don't have access to vapes."Vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, but it has not been around for long enough for its long-term risks to be known, according to the NHS.
The vapour that is inhaled can still contain small amounts of chemicals that are found in cigarettes, including nicotine - which is addictive but not seen by the health service as one of the most problematic ingredients in cigarettes.The proposals follow last year's announcement of a ban on the sale of cigarettes to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 as part of an attempt to create a "smoke-free generation".
Health Secretary Victoria Atkins told she was confident the new bill would pass Parliament by the time of the general election - expected to be this year - with it coming into force in early 2025.Once the timing is confirmed, retailers will be given six months to implement it.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he supported a disposable vapes ban but criticised what he described as a two-year delay by the government in introducing legislation.He also criticised suggestions Tory MPs may get a free vote on the issue - meaning they will be able to vote according to their conscience, not the party line.The bill could be brought in using existing legislation designed to protect the environment.Campaigners have long argued that disposable vapes are wasteful and that the materials and chemicals used to make them, including their lithium batteries, make them difficult to dispose of safely.The latest changes would also introduce powers to stop refillable vapes being sold in a flavour marketed at children and to require that they be produced in plainer, less appealing packaging.The government will also be able to mandate that shops display refillable vapes out of sight of children and away from other products they might buy, like sweets.A further public consultation will take place to decide which flavours should be banned and how refillable vapes will be sold, the government said.
To help stop under-age sales, additional fines will be brought in for any shops in England and Wales caught selling vapes illegally to children.
The head teacher of Oldham's Newham Catholic College, Glyn Potts, said action needed to be taken to stop children being "bombarded" with "attractive" products on social media and in shops across the country.Vaping alternatives like nicotine pouches - small white pouches that are placed between the lip and gum - will also be banned for children. The pouches release nicotine but do not contain tobacco, so can currently be legally sold to under-18s.Health leaders will be keen to ensure that the new measures do not make it harder for adult smokers to move to vaping as an alternative.This is where the consultation over how far to go with restrictions on flavours and displays in shops will be important.The announcement follows an initial consultation launched late last year by the UK government and devolved administrations to gauge public attitudes to proposed measure to reduce levels of smoking and vaping.
The government said almost 70% of respondents supported a ban on disposable vapes.
Have other countries banned disposable vapes?
The Scottish and Welsh governments both said they would introduce bans, either with legislation in their own parliaments or by supporting UK-wide measures.
Northern Ireland remains without a devolved administration following a breakdown of power sharing, but its Department of Health said it had "a long-standing strategic aim" to be tobacco-free and would make preparations to allow incoming ministers to take a decision on the ban.The UK has joined a small group of countries planning to ban disposable vapes. Australia, France, Germany and New Zealand have all announced similar plans, although only New Zealand has so far implemented them.Some will argue the UK's plans still don't go far enough. There have been calls for a tax on e-cigarettes to bring them in line with tobacco, while Australia has made vapes available only by prescription.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of Ash, welcomed the government's strategy, while Dr Camilla Kingdon, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said creating a "smoke-free generation" would reduce young people's chances of developing preventable diseases in later life.But the UK Vaping Industry Association said it was "dismayed" by the announcement, adding that disposable vapes had "played a key role in helping millions of adults quit and stay off cigarettes".It instead called for better enforcement of current laws, describing the proposals as a "desperate attempt by the government to sacrifice vapers for votes" which would put children at greater risk by "turbocharging the black market".
Elf Bar - one of the country's biggest vape manufacturers with sister brand Lost Mary - said it supported the government's wish to stop children using vapes but expressed disappointment "with the outright ban".
The UK arm of the British American Tobacco, the third-largest player in the disposable market, suggested increased controls on "importation, appeal, and access" would "more effectively reduce under-age use".Shares in some major vaping firms tumbled in early trading on Monday.Trading Standards officers say more resources and time is needed to help crack down on rogue retailers.Local authorities can impose a maximum fine of £2,500 and the government announced a £30m package to support enforcement in October.Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Liz Truss criticised the government's proposed ban on the sale of tobacco products to younger people, describing it as "profoundly unconservative".