The Government will set out its plans for dealing with vapes so they are no longer targeted at children.
A consultation document will be published on Thursday morning seeking views on how vapes can be used by smokers wanting to quit but at the same time lessen their appeal to under-18s.
Among the options being considered are a complete ban on disposable vapes, restricting their sale, and ensuring they cannot be sold in an array of flavours and colours that might appeal to youngsters.
Charities, groups, individuals and industry will be invited to give their opinions on what should happen to cut their appeal.
The proposals being consulted on over an eight-week period are understood to include restricting vape flavours, regulating vape packaging with the possibility of introducing plainer packaging, regulating whether they are on display and increasing the price of vapes so they are not sold for as low as a few pounds.
On vape flavours, options may include restricting descriptions so words like “candy floss” or “muffin” cannot appear, with just generic descriptions of flavours used instead.
Other proposals include prohibiting the use of cartoons and child-friendly images such as characters on both vape packaging and the vape itself.
Some experts, including the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) and Children’s Commissioner Dame Rachel de Souza, have called for an outright ban on disposable vapes after data published in May showed a 50% rise in the last year in the proportion of children trying vaping.
Figures show that disposable vapes are the e-cigarette of choice among youngsters, while purchases of vapes are mostly made from corner shops.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said its document would consider “restricting the sale of disposable vapes, which are clearly linked to the rise in vaping in children”.
It added: “These products are not only attractive to children but also incredibly harmful to the environment.”
The Government has said it wants to tackle vaping but do this in a way that continues to support adult smokers to switch from smoking to vapes.
The UK-wide consultation will also examine whether new powers could be brought in for local authorities to issue on-the-spot fines for those selling vapes to people under-age.
It is illegal to sell vapes to under-18s but social media carries posts from teenagers showing coloured vapes and discussing flavours such as pink lemonade, strawberry, banana and mango.
Many vapes contain addictive nicotine.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who last week unveiled plans to stop children aged 14 or younger from ever legally being sold cigarettes, said he was “wasting no time to deliver on that promise”.
He added: “Our ambitious plans will reverse the worrying rise in youth vaping while protecting our children from the dangerous long-term effects of smoking as quickly as possible.”
Health and Social Care Secretary Steve Barclay said: “There has been a surge in vaping amongst children, which is why we’re taking action to reduce the appeal and availability of vapes.
“Vapes should never be used by children and we’re committed to reversing this trend.
“We also need to take bold action to protect future generations from the harms of smoking addiction, which damages health at every stage of life and costs the economy billions.”
Professor Sir Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, said: “Ensuring people do not become addicted to smoking, and helping them overcome addiction to stop smoking are two of the best interventions for health.
“Vaping is less dangerous than smoking but still has risks and can cause addiction.
“Vaping can be useful for smokers to quit but should not be marketed to non-smokers and marketing them to children is utterly unacceptable.”
Sarah Woolnough, chief executive at Asthma + Lung UK, said: “It is clear we must urgently act to stop children accessing vapes. Disposable vapes at their current pocket-money prices, with cartoons and bubblegum flavour options, are far too attractive and easy for children to access.
“We also want to see restrictions on the marketing of vapes and on flavours so that they do not target children.
“If you’re a smoker and you want to quit tobacco, vaping can be a helpful way to give up smoking. But for children and those who don’t smoke, starting to vape isn’t a good idea, especially if you have a lung condition.”
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity Ash, said: “Ground-breaking legislation to protect the next generation from smoking and vaping is needed, wanted and workable.
“This consultation will ensure all voices are heard and the balance is struck between protecting children while still helping adult smokers quit.”
Environment minister Rebecca Pow said: “The scale of the waste created by disposable vapes in the UK is shocking – industry research shows nearly five million single-use vapes are thrown away every week.
“Not only will the Prime Minister’s historic proposals to crack down on cheap and accessible disposable vapes help create the first smoke-free generation, but they will be of major benefit to the environment by tackling a particularly problematic waste stream.”
Dr Mike McKean, vice president for policy at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Just as bold action is needed to tackle smoking, so too is it needed to tackle the rise in youth vaping.
“We’re pleased to see that Government is heeding our warnings on disposable vapes and is now actively considering a ban, as well as wider restrictions on flavours, packaging, and advertisement.”
David Fothergill, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Disposable vapes are an inherently unsustainable product, meaning an outright ban remains the most effective solution to this problem.
“Single-use vapes blight our streets as litter, are a hazard in our bin lorries, and are expensive and difficult to deal with in our recycling centres.
“Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and are a risk to the health of young people.”