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Press Release

ASH will today urge the Health & Social Care Committee to call Government to account for years of inaction on vaping

28 Jun 2023

ASH will set out for the Committee our top 3 recommendations to Government:

  1. Put a £5 excise tax on disposable vapes: making them less affordable for children and giving more powers to Border Force and HMRC for preventing illegal vapes flooding into the UK.
  2. Prohibit branding with appeal to children: no more bright colours, sweet names and cartoon characters.
  3. Prohibit promotion of e-cigarettes in shops: putting vapes out of sight and out of reach of children.

Giving evidence to the Health & Social Care Committee topical session on vaping today,[1] ASH will urge the Committee to call Government to account for ignoring three years of calls by ASH for tougher regulation of e-cigarettes.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive, ASH said:

“ASH warned the Government three years ago about the legislative loophole allowing free vapes to be handed out to children.[2] No action was taken. After our surveys showed the number of children vaping growing year on year, we called again and again for tougher regulation. Still no response. Inaction was understandable during Brexit, then COVID and the Ministerial merry-go-round last year, but not any longer. Recent Government announcements that they will be ‘reviewing the rules’ is not good enough, tougher regulation is needed now, it mustn’t be kicked into the long grass yet again.”[3]

Trading Standards Officers support the call by ASH for tougher regulation and enhanced enforcement powers for e-cigarettes.

Kate Pike, Regional Co-ordinator, Trading Standards North West and Lead Officer for Vaping for the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said:

“At the moment most of the responsibility for enforcing the laws on e-cigarettes rests with trading standards. After funding cuts to local government we have fewer than half the staff we had in 2009,[4] so we just don’t have the resources to deal with the recent explosion in illegal vapes. Putting excise taxes on disposable vapes would give Border Force and HMRC more powers to prevent illegal imports and distribution and sale inland. These are powers they already have for tobacco, allowing them to seize over a billion illegal cigarettes last year.[5] We need their help with vapes too, we can’t do it on our own.“

ASH is urging the Government to implement a comprehensive set of recommendations designed to reduce the affordability, accessibility, appeal and advertising of vaping to children,[4] but tougher regulation of tobacco is also essential to drive down youth vaping. A survey of 35 European countries found that the tougher tobacco regulations are, the lower the youth vaping rates.[6] Therefore ASH is also calling on the government not to forget its overarching ambition to deliver a Smokefree 2030, which is strongly supported by the public, [7] parliamentarians and healthcare professionals. [8]

Dr Ruth Sharrock, Clinical Lead for Tobacco Dependency, North East and North Cumbria NHS Integrated Care Board. said

“Tougher regulation is needed to stop children vaping, but just as important for our children’s health is tougher regulation of tobacco to deliver the Smokefree 2030 ambition and make smoking history. Exposure to secondhand smoke is responsible for around 5,000 children being admitted to hospital every year, more than 100 times as many as are admitted for vaping-related disorders.”

She went on to say,

“Children growing up in the homes of smokers are much more likely to smoke themselves, bringing with it the risk of a lifelong addiction which kills at least 1 in 2 smokers prematurely. We need to use the ever growing, significant evidence base to ensure those most vulnerable children have every opportunity for a smokefree home and future.

ASH recommendations are based on the most up to date evidence including a detailed analysis of the trends demonstrated by its Smokefree GB youth surveys. The 2023 survey was carried out from 21st March to 18th April and provides the most recent and most comprehensive picture of underage vaping in Britain.[9]


Notes to the Editor

Action on Smoking and Health is a health charity working to eliminate the harm caused by tobacco use. ASH receives funding for its programme of work from Cancer Research UK and the British Heart Foundation.

Deborah Arnott, chief executive, Hazel Cheeseman Deputy Chief Executive, and Professor Nick Hopkinson, Professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College London and Chair of ASH are available for media interviews contact


[1] Health & Social Care Select Committee one off topical session on vaping. 10.00-11.30 28th June.


[3] Department of Health and Social Care, The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, and Neil O'Brien MP. No more free vapes for kids. Government takes steps to crack down on rogue firms targeting children with free samples. Published 30 May 2023.

[4] Labour Communities and Local Government. Local Government Health Check Report 4: Trading Standards. August 2018.

[5] HMRC. Outputs for April 2021 to March 2022. Published 3 March 2023

[6]The detailed ASH recommendations to Government on vaping are available at

[7] Cerrai S, Benedetti E, Colasante E, Scalese M, Gorini G, Gallus S, Molinaro S. E‐cigarette use and conventional cigarette smoking among European students: findings from the 2019 ESPAD survey. Addiction. 2022 Nov;117(11):2918-32.