UK

Sunak voices concerns over vape advertising ‘targeted at kids’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the London Defence Conference at Bush House, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2023.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the London Defence Conference at Bush House, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2023. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak speaks during the London Defence Conference at Bush House, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2023.

Rishi Sunak has expressed concern about his daughters potentially being targeted by vape advertising after figures showed the proportion of children trying e-cigarettes has doubled in the past decade.

The Prime Minister said it was “ridiculous” that the products appear to be marketed towards young people.

Campaigners have argued that vapes are designed to attract children with their brightly coloured packaging and sweet flavours and called for a Government crackdown.

Vaping survey
Vaping survey Mr Sunak expressed his worries over the marketing of the products (PA)

Mr Sunak told ITV’s This Morning: “I have two young girls. I’m also worried about that.

“It looks like they are targeted at kids, (which is) ridiculous.”

Ministers announced a crackdown on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s with an “illicit vapes enforcement squad” earlier this year.

They said the task force would conduct “test purchasing” at shops and share “intelligence” across regional networks and local authorities.

Labour has pledged to change to change advertising rules to prevent products like vapes being marketed to children.

Sir Keir Starmer NHS speech
Sir Keir Starmer NHS speech Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer pledged to change ad rules (Ian West/PA)

In a major speech outlining the party’s approach to health and the NHS, Sir Keir Starmer said: “We will change advertising rules and we will make sure that products which are harmful to our children’s health – vaping, junk food, sugary snacks – cannot be advertised to our children. No – not in Britain.”

It comes after YouGov data for Britain suggests experimental vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds rose from 5.6% in 2014 to 11.6% in 2023.

Geoff Worsley, a father from Abergele, North Wales, whose change.org petition Stop Children Vaping – More Regulation Now has more than 100,000 signatures, said: “Parents like me up and down the country are calling on Government to act to protect our children from vaping as well as smoking.

“More funding for enforcement is a good first step but it’s not enough. Vaping is safer and better for smokers than smoking, but it shouldn’t be promoted to children.

“Regulations are needed to prevent vapes being openly sold in prominent positions within shops, in brightly coloured packaging and sweet names attractive to kids.”