The same restrictions that currently apply to tobacco products should be applied to the marketing, packaging and display of e-cigarettes, according to a new consultation response by Public Health Wales.

In its response to a UK Government consultation on tackling smoking and youth vaping, Public Health Wales has also reaffirmed its strong support for raising the age of tobacco sales in the UK.

The organisation also supports a total ban on disposable vapes, as these are very strongly associated with rises in vaping amongst children and young people, as well as having clear environmental harms.

Whilst vapes can help adult smokers quit, the rise in vaping amongst those who have never smoked, in particular children and young people, raises concerns that companies are targeting new markets for nicotine addiction. Ensuring products cannot be marketed in ways that appeal to children and young people is essential to address those concerns.

Julie Bishop, director of health improvement for Public Health Wales, said, “Public Health Wales supports strong action to raise the age of tobacco sale in the UK, as well as for new laws on the way vapes are marketed and sold to bring them in-line with tobacco products.

“We welcome the fact that the UK government’s consultation asked specifically about the packaging and display of vapes, as we strongly believe that these products should be sold in standardised packaging in plain colours with no logos, as is currently the case with tobacco products.

“Vapes should also be stored behind the counter, and not on display, to mirror the approach for tobacco products.

“These measures have been very effective in tackling smoking uptake amongst children and young people.”

Public Health Wales has previously welcomed plans to allow a free vote in parliament on raising the legal age of smoking by one year.

Smoking remains a major factor in premature death, avoidable illness and health inequalities across Wales. Smoking was associated with over 5,000 deaths and almost one in 20 hospital admissions in those over 35 in Wales in 2018.

In its consultation response, Public Health Wales has also argued for action on the flavouring of vapes. This includes restrictions on naming conventions of vape products, including a legally defined list of descriptive flavours, and a ban on flavours that particularly appeal to young people.

The UK Government launched its consultation entitled ‘Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping’ on October 12, 2024. The government subsequently outlined in the king’s speech on November 7 its intention of bringing in legislation within the current parliamentary session, including:

  • A plan to ban sales of all tobacco products to anyone born after January 1, 2009
  • Measures intended to address the rise in vaping amongst children and young people through measures potentially including regulation of vape products, packaging and point-of-sale displays