The Government is appealing to parents and teachers to respond to a consultation on ways of curbing the use of the electronic devices among youngsters.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay told the Daily Express something must be done about the “alarming rise” of vaping among children.
“There’s no doubt vaping is safer than smoking and an essential tool to help adult smokers quit,” he added.
“But as a dad, I’m concerned that one in five children have already vaped, up from less than one in 10 only three years ago.
“It’s clearly no coincidence. Like many Express readers, I’m appalled to see vapes marketed at children.”
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The Government set out plans to phase out the sale of cigarettes and introduce tighter restrictions on vaping to protect children in the King’s Speech.
Under the changes, anyone turning 14 this year or younger will never legally be sold cigarettes.
The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will effectively raise the age of tobacco sale by one year every year to prevent young people from ever taking up smoking.
It also promised a “further crackdown on youth vaping” while encouraging adult smokers to use vapes to quit.
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Health campaigners have repeatedly said that offering e-cigarettes for “pocket money prices” encourages children to take up vaping.
Other proposals include restricting the flavours and descriptions of vapes so they are no longer targeted at children, putting vapes out of the sight of children and regulating vape packaging and how products are presented.
One in five children have now tried vaping despite it being illegal for under-18s, while the number of children using vapes has tripled in the past three years.
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Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, said: “E-cigarettes and cigarettes are competing products. They are direct substitutes for each other. If you discourage one you effectively encourage the other. We have solid evidence from the USA that taxing e-cigarettes increases tobacco sales. It would be perverse for a government that explicitly wants to make Britain “smokefree” to introduce policies that are, in effect, pro-smoking.”
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