Clause 7 - Sale of vaping products to under 18s

Part of Tobacco and Vapes Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 12:30 pm ar 9 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Dr Caroline Johnson Dr Caroline Johnson Ceidwadwyr, Sleaford and North Hykeham 12:30, 9 Mai 2024

I welcome the clauses. I have been very concerned about the number of children who are taking up vaping and about its effects. We have heard in evidence, both in the Health and Social Care Committee and last week in this Committee, about the dangers of vaping for children who have never smoked. The chief medical officer has made it extremely clear that for someone who smokes, vaping may be better for them, but that someone who does not smoke should not vape. These measures will help to reduce the number of children who have access to such products, which is good. They will also close the loopholes for free samples and non-nicotine vapes, which can provide a gateway to such awful addiction.

We have also heard how nicotine in general is not just very addictive but harmful to children’s developing brains, and how getting them hooked early makes it more difficult for them to quit in the long term. We have heard about how children in schools are struggling to concentrate when leaving lessons to consume nicotine, which is having an impact on their education and wellbeing. We have heard from health experts about small particles going into children’s lungs, without our knowing what the long-term effects of that might be. I welcome any clause that will help to reduce the number of children vaping.

I do have one question. The cross-heading before clause 7 is “Vaping and nicotine products”, but clause 7 only makes it an offence to sell a vaping product to a person under the age of 18, rather than also making it an offence to sell all other nicotine products, although the capacity to do so is set out later in clause 9. I am just wondering why the Minister is taking a power to restrict nicotine product sales but is not actually doing so. We are starting to see that children at school are using nicotine pouches that are available in all sorts of different flavours. I can see nicotine pouches becoming the next way for the industry to try to hook children on nicotine. Has the Minister considered getting ahead of the game by saying that nicotine products cannot be sold to children at all?