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This blog post was published under the 2015-2024 Conservative Administration

How we’re cutting smoking and stopping children vaping

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Public Health, Smoking, Vaping

*Updated 14 August 2023*

We have set out new measures to help meet our Smokefree 2030 target and tackle youth vaping.

This includes:

  • a national vaping scheme to help one million smokers ‘swap to stop’
  • financial incentives to help pregnant women quit
  • a new ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’
  • a call for evidence on youth vaping and closing a loophole the vaping industry to give free samples of vapes to children
  • consulting on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts

Here’s everything you need to know.

What are the key measures you've announced?

  • We will be funding a new national ‘swap to stop’ scheme – the first of its kind in the world – to offer a million smokers across England a free vaping starter kit.
  • We have launched a call for evidence on youth vaping to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vape products.
  • We are establishing a new “illicit vapes enforcement squad” to tackle underage vape sales as well as the illicit products young people have access to.
  • We will offer a financial incentive scheme – in the form of vouchers alongside behavioural support - to all pregnant women who smoke, by the end of next year.
  • HMRC and Border Force will be publishing a new strategy to combat illicit tobacco, which will outline joint efforts to catch and punish those involved in the illegal market.
  • We will consult this year on introducing mandatory cigarette pack inserts with information to help people to quit.

How will the ‘swap to stop’ scheme work?

  • Vaping starter packs and/or vouchers will be provided through our new public sector e-cigarette procurement portal.
  • There will be a choice of products, strengths and flavours that will allow quitters to find the product that works best for them.
  • Smokers who join this scheme must commit to quitting smoking with expert support, including through local authority-led stop smoking services.

What will the illicit vapes enforcement squad actually do?

  • The new national programme will coordinate the efforts of Trading Standards across the country and gather intelligence on illegal activity.
  • The squad will remove illegal products from shelves and at our borders and undertake more testing of products to ensure compliance with our rules. It will also undertake specific projects such as test purchasing in convenience stores and vape shops.

How will the financial incentive scheme for pregnant women work?

  • We will deliver a financial incentive scheme – in the form of vouchers alongside behavioural support – to all pregnant women who smokeby the end of next year.
  • Women who engage with stop smoking support and provide a low reading on a carbon monoxide breath test to show they are smokefree will be issued with an e-voucher.
  • The exact value and timing of each voucher has yet to be determined, but these will be available at regular intervals throughout the pregnancy. We will set out how the scheme will operate in due course – but it will be based on effective pilots and schemes already underway across the country.
  • This evidence-based scheme will only be open to pregnant women as we know it is effective for this group.
  • They will not be able to redeem the vouchers on cigarettes or tobacco products.

Is there any evidence that inserts in cigarette packets actually work?

  • Pack inserts are already used in other countries - including Canada and Israel, with Australia also announcing its intention to introduce them - and there is evidence that they can be an effective means of encouraging smokers to quit.
  • An evaluation of the policy’s impact in Canada found that almost 1 in 3 smokers had read the inserts at least once in the past month, and that those who were exposed to the inserts multiple times were significantly more likely to try to give up smoking.
  • The messages help encourage smokers to quit, including by setting out the health and economic benefits of quitting. For example, smokers who quit will see improvements to breathing within a matter of days and a 50% reduction in the risk of heart attack within a year, while the average smoker is likely to save over £2,000 per year if they quit.

Have you considered the long-term harms of vapes?

  • We know that vapes are substantially less harmful than smoking. However, we recognise that there are unanswered questions on the effects of longer-term use.
  • We need to balance the public health opportunities vaping offers to smokers, while protecting young people and non-smokers from using them.
  • Our call for evidence will look at what more we can do to protect children from the risks of vaping and explicitly asks for more evidence on any potential long-term harms.

What are you doing right now to tackle youth vaping?

  • The Prime Minister announced we will close a loophole which allows the vaping industry to give free samples of vapes to children in England.
  • We have regulations in place to discourage underage vaping – restricting sales of vapes to over 18s only, limiting nicotine content, refill bottle and tank sizes, labelling requirements and through advertising restrictions.
  • In October 2022, we published new content on the potential risks of vaping for young people on the FRANK and Better Health websites and we have provided input to educational resources produced by partners including the PSHE Association.
  • We are also developing a new resource pack for schools on vaping which will be made available by July. Dedicated police school liaison officers will use these to keep illegal vapes out of schools.
  • The health risks of vaping will be also included in Relationships, Sex and Health Education lessons.
  • There will also be a review into the rules on issuing fines to shops selling vapes to under 18s illegally to allow local Trading Standards to issue on-the-spot fines and fixed penalty notices more easily.

Why are you not implementing more of the Khan review recommendations?

  • The Khan Review (published in June 2022) made 15 independent recommendations to support the government’s Smokefree 2030 ambition.
  • In this package of new measures, we have responded to a number of these, including:
    • Significant new funding focused on the most effective measures to reduce smoking and tackle illicit vaping.
    • Embracing the promotion of vaping as an effective quit tool through a national swap to stop scheme – the first of its kind in the world.
    • Brand new measures to tackle illicit tobacco and vaping.
    • Taking action to tackle the rise in youth vaping.
  • We are confident that these measures today are bold, innovative and ambitious and set us on course to meet our target to be Smokefree by 2030.
  • We considered all of the Khan Review proposals when agreeing our next steps. We have chosen to focus our resources and prioritise the measures that are ready to be delivered and evidenced to have a big impact on smoking rates.

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