Vaping industry hits back after Leeds councillors call for plain packaging for e-cigarettes

UK – The vaping industry says it strongly opposes plain packaging for e-cigarettes after councillors in Leeds criticized the way the products are marketed.

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) says such a move, which was recently proposed by the Children’s Commissioner, would “conflate vaping and smoking”.

A Leeds council scrutiny meeting was told that underage teenagers are flocking to the city center to buy vapes from certain shops.

Conservative councillor Dan Cohen claimed the marketing of e-cigarettes was “outrageous”, saying they were “unambiguously designed to attract young people”.

The bright coloring and flavoring within vapes were among the features highlighted in the criticism.

Responding to the concerns, the UKVIA said youth vaping “has to be urgently tackled”, but they insisted banning single-use vapes and bringing in plain packaging was not the answer.

Disposable vaping devices are seen for sale in shops. The vaping industry has said plain packaging is not the answer, as Leeds councillors raised concerns about children buying e-cigarettes from city center shops.

John Dunne, the association’s director general, said: “Vapes, whether designed to be single or multiple-use devices, are age-restricted products, such as alcohol or aerosol spray paints and should never be sold to children. This is an access issue not a product issue.

“The answer is not to ban any category of vape device and deny adult smokers and vapers effective choices, especially those in high smoking, low-income areas, but to ensure that the regulations are stringent enough and the penalties severe enough so that those who have up to now been intent on breaking the law are discouraged from ever selling to minors again.”

Mr. Dunne said enforcing age restrictions on vapes was a “broken system” and called on the government to give more backing to Trading Standards.

While vaping is a healthier alternative than traditional tobacco smoking, there has been increasingly widespread alarm about non-smoking teenagers using e-cigarettes in recent weeks.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hit out at the industry in May, saying it was “ridiculous” that the products are “targeted at kids”. But Mr. Dunne said the UKVIA had been urging ministers to “clamp down hard” on youth vaping.

He added, however, that “we disagree with the Children’s Commissioner about its proposal to introduce plain packaging” on the grounds it may “deter tobacco smokers from attempting to quit”.

Mr. Dunne added: “It will conflate vaping with smoking and will add to the misperceptions that already abound regarding the relative risk of vaping compared to smoking.

“Interestingly, new research just conducted by YouGov amongst 1,000 16-17-year-olds has revealed that only 8% would stop vaping if vapes became plain in color.”

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