Northern Ireland

Single-use vapes: British government’s tobacco ban plan to be extended to Northern Ireland, Robin Swann confirms

The new UK Bill will need the approval of the Stormont Assembly.

Disposable vapes could be banned in Scotland in just over a year
Man vaping A government plan to ban disposable vapes as part of plans to tackle the rising number of young people taking up vaping is set to be extended to Northern Ireland (Jacob King/PA)

British government plans to protect children’s health by banning single-use vapes are to be extended to Northern Ireland, subject to approval by the Stormont assembly.

Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed the north will be included in Westminster’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill.

The proposed legislation will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1 2009 and will provide powers to allow for further regulatory measures to address youth vaping.

Evidence has shown that disposable vapes – which are cheaper and sold in smaller, more colourful packaging than refillable ones – are driving the rise in youth vaping.

Mr Swann said: “Smoking kills – it’s that simple.

“In Northern Ireland it kills more than 2,000 people each year and treating tobacco-related conditions costs our hospitals over £200 million annually.

“If there are measures available that will reduce preventable deaths, help people live longer healthier lives, then as health minister I must advocate for them.

“I fully support the UK government’s plans to create a smoke-free generation and tackle youth vaping.

“It was clear from the UK-wide consultation that people in Northern Ireland are also fully behind these plans.

“Many parents and teachers have shared with me their concerns around the growing trend among young people to vape.

“While vaping can play a role in supporting smoking cessation, the public health advice remains clear – if you don’t smoke or vape, keep it that way – this is particularly important for children and young people.”

Mr Swann said he had requested that Northern Ireland be included in the UK government Bill.

He added: “Ultimately it will be for the Northern Ireland assembly to take a final decision on our inclusion.

“Having previously introduced legislation in 2021 to help protect children from the harms of tobacco smoke and vaping, I am confident that these latest measures, if passed, will enable us go a step further and create a future where our young people are free from these dangers.”

UK minister for public health Andrea Leadsom said: “We warmly welcome the news that Northern Ireland will join us in making history and bringing forward the smoke-free generation.

“No parent ever wants their child to smoke, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will prevent our children, now across all four nations, ever picking up this dangerous habit.

“It’s excellent our Northern Ireland colleagues will join us in tackling the worrying rise in youth vaping – putting children’s health first.”

The chief medical officer for Northern Ireland, Professor Sir Michael McBride, said: “The human costs to families and the financial costs to our health service as a result of smoking are simply unacceptable.

“Smoking is a life-limiting addiction. No other consumer product kills up to two thirds of its users.

“It increases the risk of stillbirths, cancer, asthma, dementia, stroke and heart failure and causes around one in four of all cancer deaths.

“It is also a leading cause of health inequalities with lung cancer rates around two and a half times higher in the most deprived areas as the least deprived areas.

“People can be desperate to stop smoking but they find it very difficult because addiction is not a choice.

“These new measures will help protect people from ever starting to smoke.”

Sir Michael added: “We owe it to future generations to protect them from the devastation that we know tobacco causes.

“This legislation has the potential to vastly improve public health outcomes for many future generations.”