Rishi Sunak has slammed vaping firms who prey on children, warning that ‘bad things will happen to them’.
The Prime Minister hit out at the marketing of e-cigarettes, saying they are ‘designed to appeal to kids’.
Mr Sunak said it’s ‘not right’ that colourful packaging, characters and flavours are used to target children, in an interview with Sky News’ children’s programme FYI.
It comes as latest figures show that nearly one in 10 secondary school pupils in England vape regularly, with rates doubling over the last decade.
Last month, a MailOnline investigation revealed that vapes are being sold alongside sweets. This website’s probe also uncovered ‘dupe’ e-cigarettes made to look like sweets and told the stories of children left scarred by the devices.
Rishi Sunak has slammed vaping firms who prey on children, as he warned ‘bad things will happen to them’
It comes after a MailOnline investigation exposed the predatory marketing tactics of vape firms selling the products alongside sweets
MailOnline’s investigation also uncovered ‘dupe’ e-cigarettes made to look like sweets, and told the stories of children left scarred by the devices
Mr Sunak told presenters Maya and Brandon: ‘No one should be vaping under 18. It’s illegal to sell vapes to children.
‘But yet we know that more and more young people are. We want to stop that.’
He pointed to ‘illicit vapes enforcement squad’, which the Government this month announced would be launched in light of the increasing number of young vapers.
The squads, led by Trading Standards, will work across the country and ‘clamp down’ on businesses selling vapes to under-18s.
The PM said millions of pounds have been put behind the vape squads, to help them enforce the rules and he warned of the consequences for those who are caught selling to children.
‘If they do, then bad things will happen to them,’ Mr Sunak said.
He also made a plea for help in finding effective ways of preventing children from vaping. The Government’s last week launched a call for evidence that aims to identify the ‘best ideas’ to crack down on vaping among children.
Mr Sunak said: ‘That’s how Government makes policy. I don’t just wake up in the morning and just announce something. We take time to talk to people, to listen, to get ideas and then make the right decision.’
He added: ‘The adverts for these things [vapes] are designed to appeal to kids, you know, with the colours they use, the characters they use — that’s not right — their flavours. This is all things that shouldn’t be happening.’
Shock NHS data shows almost one in 10 secondary pupils are regular vapers, double the proportion in 2014.
And as many as 30 per cent of under-18s in some regions have used the devices, according to statistics.
MailOnline’s investigation found sweet shops along London’s Oxford Street selling brightly coloured e-cigarettes alongside candy — which a top paediatric expert described as ‘no coincidence’.
Professor Andrew Bush, from Imperial College London, said: ‘It is very clear all these flavourings are marketed at children.’
Our investigation also discovered ‘dupe’ vapes mimicking Chupa Chups, Skittles, Jolly Rancher, Rubicon and Calypso, with near-identical branding to the popular sweets and drinks in other stores along Oxford Street and online.
Professor Bush condemned the predatory duplications, saying ‘anything that gives the impression these are harmless, child-friendly things is an outrageous attempt to prey upon children and young people’.
And the doctor warned the ‘acute damage’ caused by vaping is ‘much greater than can be done with cigarettes’.
‘Kids have been in intensive care and people have died from it,’ he said. ‘It’s rare, thankfully, but it happens.’
And example of this is Ewan Fisher, whose lungs failed aged 16 due to vaping.
The now 19-year-old, from Nottingham, was left with the ‘lungs of an 80-year-old lifelong smoker’ according to doctors, after vaping for just six months in an attempt to give up cigarettes.