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Councillors decry vape packaging which could encourage underage use

March 12, 2023

Photo: iStock

By Austen Shakespeare, Local Democracy Reporter

Councillors have voiced their horror and outrage at supposedly child-friendly vape packaging discovered by Gateshead trading standards officials.

Councillors from across the North East gathered in Gateshead to officially sign off on joint support to discourage underage vaping and vape sales in the region. However, council officers also presented councillors with examples of what is believed to be child-friendly vape packaging.

Charity Action on Smoking and Health, estimated in 2022 8.6 per cent of 11 to 18-year-olds were using vapes compared to four per cent in 2021. A fifth bought vapes in corner shops while 16.3 per cent bought them from larger supermarkets.

More than half of trading standard departments in local authorities across the country (60%) identified illicit sales of vapes to children as their number one concern.

North Tyneside councillor John O’Shea said: “I think that typifies the need for some kind of regulation around these. This is stuff we should really be supporting and I know we have discussed this in past and I think we have generally supported activities to try and curtail this.”

Sunderland councillor Jill Fletcher said: “Facebook is flooded with adverts for the local shops where you can get them. Many of them are multi-coloured now.

“It’s teenagers who think it’s an accessory, the in thing, that’s the worrying thing.”

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Kevin Dodds also expressed his concern on how many vapes are designed to look “more and more like toys”.

Sunderland councillor Juliana Heron said: “I’m horrified by this, I really am. The vape shops are so colourful, enticing people in. I just think it’s getting out of hand.”

Council officers claimed the tobacco companies behind the production of many vapes are hoping to replace dying older smokers with a younger demographic of vapers.

While the NHS acknowledges vapes may help smokers transition to a smoke-free life, it does not advise non-smokers to vape as a supposedly safer alternative.