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Press Release

ASH calls on Chancellor to tax disposable vapes

11 Feb 2023

Following increases in youth vaping and amid growing concerns among parents, teachers and local authorities, ASH is calling on the government to act without delay to strengthen regulation and fund enforcement, setting out its recommendations in a plan of action published today. [1]

As a first step ASH recommends excise tax on single use (disposable) vapes to be implemented in the Budget on March 15th. This would immediately reduce the affordability of these products, which are the most popular vapes with children and can currently be bought for under a fiver.

Adding an excise tax of £4 per disposable vape could bring the price up to the same level as the cheapest re-usable vapes, while still less expensive than cigarettes, which are the most harmful product. This would make disposable vapes significantly less affordable for children, and discourage the use of these environmentally damaging products by adults.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of health charity ASH, said,

“Smoking is much more harmful than vaping and smoking remains the biggest threat to our children’s health. But vaping is not risk-free, and in the light of the recent increase in children vaping government action is urgently needed to tighten regulation and increase enforcement.”

“Children who vape mainly use cheap disposables, which can be bought for under a fiver. They could easily be made less affordable in the March Budget with the introduction of a specific tax for single use disposable vapes. In one simple step this would reduce both child vaping and the vast quantities of single use vapes being thrown into landfill.”

In response to demand from schools, education authorities and parents, ASH has worked with Sheffield city council to produce schools resources including a short animated film available here as well as posters, a classroom presentation, teacher’s toolkit and electronic leaflet for parents and carers. [1]

Greg Fell, Director of Public Health in Sheffield said:

“Vaping helps adult smokers quit, but if you don’t smoke you shouldn’t start vaping. We need to continue to do our best to stop children smoking, but we don’t want them to start vaping either.”

“Sheffield, working with ASH, has produced comprehensive information and advice on how to stop children vaping, in response to demands from parents and teachers. However, while education is important, we need to do more, it's not enough on its own. That is why I urge the government to implement the ASH recommendations for stricter regulation and enforcement of vapes.”

Also needed is better funding for enforcement and stricter product regulation. The ASH policy brief sets out a comprehensive approach to reducing youth vaping while not undermining the use of e-cigarettes by adult smokers trying to quit, which is recommended by health organisations such as NICE, and the Royal College of Physicians. Key measures include:

Reducing product appeal e.g. by prohibiting:

  • cartoon characters and bright colours on packs.
  • product names or descriptors associated with sweets or sweet names (e.g. gummy bears).
  • design features such as “light up” vapes which can be used in the dark like glow sticks.

Reducing access to vapes by:

  • better funding for enforcement using MHRA e-cigarette notification fees
  • putting vapes behind the counter
  • mandatory age verification in shops for anyone looking under 25
  • prohibiting free distribution (currently legal to anyone of any age)

John Herriman, CEO, Chartered Trading Standards Institute said:
We fully support the proposals to ensure there is sufficient funding for local Trading Standards teams, to deal with what is an increasingly significant issue, with an explosion in the sale of non-compliant vapes and concerns around their supply to young people.”

“Trading Standards plays a critical role both in educating business, and enforcing the law. However, right now a wild west exists, where any high street retailer can sell vapes and we are inundated with examples from across the country of retailers routinely breaking the law. This situation cannot continue - we believe the introduction of a registration scheme for businesses selling vapes would help our Trading Standards teams, have a clearer picture of who can legally sell these items in their local area, with clear penalties for anyone breaking the law.”

The Local Government Association is also warning today that stricter measures to regulate the display and marketing of vaping products are needed.


Notes to the Editor

For interviews and more information contact

[1] ASH policy brief and Sheffield City Council resources for parents and teachers available here

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. For more information see: ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation, and provides the secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health.