No plans to make vapes prescription-only, Government says

The Government is not currently considering making vapes prescription-only (PA)
The Government is not currently considering making vapes prescription-only (PA)

The Government currently has no plans to make e-cigarettes prescription-only as calls mount for more restrictions on vapes in a bid to stop children accessing them.

Conservative MP Dr Neil Hudson asked the House of Commons about the “potential merits” of restricting the sale of vapes by making them prescription-only.

In a written statement, Neil O’Brien of the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), said: “No formal assessment has been made.

“There are no medicinally licensed vaping products approved by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. As such, the Government is not currently considering making vaping products prescription-only.”

It comes after MPs called for heavier restrictions on vape packaging and marketing in a bid to deter children from taking up the habit.

The Health and Social Care Committee said there is an “alarming trend” of children using e-cigarettes and they should be displayed with plain packaging in line with other tobacco products.

The committee said it believes the messaging around vaping as a tool to help smokers quit can be maintained, but more should be done on education, enforcement and regulations to keep them out of the reach of children.

Chairman Steve Brine called for “decisive action” from the Government, adding: “It’s clear to us that the vaping industry has not gone far enough to ensure that its products don’t appeal to children.”

Vaping survey
Some organisations claim colourful packaging and exotic flavours are attracting children to vaping (Nicholas. T .Ansell/PA)

A spokesperson for public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) welcomed the call from the Health and Social Care Committee, but said prescription-only e-cigarette would be a “step too far”.

“Further regulations on vapes are needed to make products less appealing and less affordable for children,” he said.

“However, prescription-only products are a step too far and would currently put the health of smokers at risk. Vaping is a proven quitting aid which is much less harmful than smoking and it is not in the interests of public health for vapes to be less accessible to smokers than the much more harmful product; tobacco.”

Earlier in July, the British Medical Association said it would review the dangers of vaping, as well as calling for them to be sold in plain packaging.

Last week, the Local Government Association (LGA) said single-use vapes should be banned by next year on environmental and health grounds.

A DHSC spokesperson said it had “launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products, exploring a range of issues including the marketing and promotion of vapes”.

It has now closed and the Government will be considering a range of options.