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Labour intends to make vapes ‘prescription-only’ to stop youth access

December 7, 2023

(Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Vapes could be made prescription-only to stop children getting hooked on if Labour government comes to power, stated a report, citing statements of shadow health secretary Wes Streeting.

The party has been considering the move, Streeting said, accusing “Big Tobacco” and the vaping industry of “crying crocodile tears” about the rise of vaping among children.

During a visit to Australia last week, he said that the vaping industry should be made to go “back to its roots” as a genuine smoking cessation aid, only available to those trying to quit.  It has been illegal since 2021 for any Australian to purchase vapes containing nicotine without a doctor’s prescription.

Streeting told The Telegraph that he was considering the same policy.

Streeting said that Labour was considering making e-cigarettes prescription-only, in an attempt to ensure they can only be accessed by adults trying to quit and not become a “gateway” to smoking for children.

“I’m outraged at the extent to which this irresponsible industry has peddled itself as an altruistic smoking cessation service, at the same time as addicting a generation of children’s nicotine.

“I’m looking very carefully at what Mark Butler and the Australian Labor government have announced. Their policy is in part driven by the evidence here in Australia that vaping has become a gateway drug to smoking. So I think we need to look carefully at what the UK evidence is on that front.”

Streeting did not commit to any specific measures for a Labour health plan on vaping, saying, “We’ve got to have an evidence-based approach to this and I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

“I’ve always said vaping is better than smoking. So as a step-down service, from smoking to stopping smoking, I think vaping has a role to play,” he said.

Streeting statement came as the government on Wednesday (6) closed a consultation on measures to crack down on youth vaping, seeking submission over ban on flavours and marketing aimed at children.

A ban on disposable vapes is also under consideration and so is higher taxes on e-cigarettes.

The number of children vaping has tripled in the last three years, with one in five children aged between 11 and 17 having tried it, according to the latest survey from Action on Smoking and Health.