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Government to launch ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ with £3m funding

April 10, 2023

Illegal vapes seized from a store in Plymouth (Photo: Devon County Council)

The government is set to launch new measures to combat rising levels of youth vaping and the illegal sale of vapes.

In his speech at Policy Exchange on Tuesday 11 April, Health Minister Neil O’Brien is expected to announce a new ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’ – backed by £3 million of government funding – to enforce the rules on vaping and tackle illicit vapes and underage sales.

Working across the country, the enforcement squad led by Trading Standards will share knowledge and intelligence across regional networks and local authorities.

It will undertake specific projects such as test purchasing in convenience stores and vape shops. It will also produce guidance to help build regulatory compliance, and will have the power to remove illegal products from shops and at our borders.

The minister is also expected to announce the launch of a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vapes, while ensuring they remain available as a quit aid for adult smokers.

It will explore topical issues such as the marketing and promotion of vapes and the environmental impact of disposable products.

“While vaping is a preferable alternative to smoking for adults, we are concerned about the rise in youth vaping, particularly the increasing use of disposable vaping products,” O’Brien said.

“The new illicit vapes enforcement squad will work across the country and clamp down on those businesses who sell vapes to children – which is illegal – and get them hooked on nicotine. Our call for evidence will also allow us to get a firm understanding of the steps we can take to reduce the number of children accessing and using vapes.”