December 18, 2022
By Philip Churm, Local Democracy Reporter
All vaping products should be kept away from public display and face the same restrictions as tobacco products, according to a South Hams councillor.
Independent councillor for Totnes, Jo Sweett, raised the issue at a South Hams District Council (SHDC) meeting on Thursday (15 December).
Cllr Sweett introduced a motion asking the council to “write to central government, Torbay and South Devon Healthcare Trust and trading standards and all other partner organisations requesting that all nicotine products including all types of ‘vapes’ are immediately subjected to the same restrictions as cigarette products.”
Cllr Sweett said: “We clearly have a massive problem where there doesn’t seem to be any sort of legislation, any advertising restrictions at all, when you look on the government website.
“So, I’d really like to see everything behind a counter. I realise that vapes do have a place and that they are useful for people coming off smoking but I don’t see why they have to have that huge marketed approach. They could all be positioned in the same place.”
UK law states it is illegal to sell vaping products to anyone aged under 18 and to buy vaping products for anyone under 18.
Rules laid down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) say: “All ads for vaping and e-cigarettes that appear in media that is permitted should still be socially responsible, not targeted at children and should not make unauthorised health and/or safety claims.”
Cllr Sweett received considerable support from other councillors at the full council meeting but some members raised concerns.
Conservative councillor for Wembury and Brixton, Daniel Brown was concerned about limiting individual choice.
“We’re coming towards the end, chairman, of a period where [there has been] significant level of government restrictions on our lives,” he said. “And I’m not a fan of the idea of particularly having more at the moment.
“I’m also a fan of a little bit of personal responsibility coming into it. So I’m afraid I won’t be able to support this.”
Lib Dem member for Newton and Yealmpton, Keith Baldry, backed Cllr Brown’s comments and doubted some some of the claims made against vaping.
“I think the evidence is not yet proved one way or the other about vaping and it’s certainly not proved on secondary vaping.
“I think people can decide for themselves. They need to make their own minds up whether they want to buy a product.”
But Cllr Denise O’Callaghan (Lib Dem, Kingsbridge) shared Cllr Sweett’s worries.
She said: “People think vaping is a way of coming off an addictive product but, in some ways, it could be seen as worse. So I think it’s a serious problem and I would like to support this.
“Anything that can be done about this, I think, is a good thing.”
Tobacco smoking among teenagers has reduced very significantly in the past 40 years.
Government figures show that in 1982, 11 per cent of 11-15 year olds were regular smokers compared to just one per cent in 2021.
Seven per cent of secondary school age people are currently thought to use vape products.
The motion was passed with 25 councillors voting in favour and two abstaining.