The UK authorities has declared warfare on nicotine. First, prime minister Rishi Sunak promised to ban cigarettes for everybody born after 2008. And now, well being secretary Steve Barclay is trying to clamp down on e-cigarettes, supposedly to deal with the rise in youth vaping. Worth rises, flavour bans and plain packaging are among the many measures into account in a session launched earlier this month. The federal government thinks that these new restrictions will assist save lives – however clamping down on vapes would really be dangerous to our well being.

Barclay is just not improper to level out that vaping has risen amongst Britain’s younger folks. Certainly, 34 per cent of 16- and 17-year-olds say they’ve vaped a minimum of as soon as. On the identical time, although, the proportion of younger individuals who repeatedly smoke cigarettes has plummeted from 19 per cent in 2000 to round 5 per cent right this moment.

Anti-tobacco charities and strain teams have checked out these statistics, put two and two collectively, and give you 106. They declare that vaping merchandise are merely the most recent try by the villains at large tobacco to lure youngsters right into a lifetime of nicotine habit. And the federal government, with its fingers twitching across the ban-hammer, is listening.

The issue with all that is that nicotine alone simply isn’t very dangerous. Definitely vaping doesn’t pose something like the identical degree of danger as smoking. These with hypertension or a dodgy coronary heart may need to steer clear, however in that case they need to additionally steer clear of the caffeine in tea and occasional.

Regardless of the panic that youth vaping has generated, there’s arguably some excellent news on this. The place fashionable youths have been as soon as hooked on fags, they’re now puffing on popcorn-flavoured Elf Bars at a fraction of the danger to their well being.

I’m not suggesting that underneath 18s needs to be consuming nicotine, after all. Promoting vapes to youngsters is already unlawful and it ought to keep that method. However numerous failed crackdowns attest to the problem of stopping youngsters from consuming substances they shouldn’t. And if younger persons are going to smoke or vape whatever the guidelines, then absolutely we’d reasonably they do that within the most secure attainable method.

The issue with extending acquainted tobacco-control measures like plain packaging, excessive value hikes, and sweeping flavour bans to vapes is that they’ll find yourself treating vaping as if it’s simply as harmful as smoking cigarettes. Somewhat than serving to people who smoke to give up by encouraging them to vape as an alternative, these insurance policies will solely strengthen the cycle of tobacco habit. In any case, if vaping turns into simply as costly and restricted as smoking, you then may as effectively smoke the actual factor.

Then there’s the proof from overseas. Australia’s ethical panic round vaping started just a few years forward of the UK’s, however happened for the exact same cause – a spike in youth vaping. The federal government Down Below applied its personal strict packaging legal guidelines and flavour bans, after which went even additional by outlawing leisure vaping altogether (Aussies can now solely purchase e-cigarettes in pharmacies with a prescription).

The outcome? Whereas smoking charges have continued to plummet within the UK and US, as people who smoke swap to vaping, the decline has slowed to a crawl in Australia. On the identical time, a thriving black marketplace for e-cigarettes has emerged – promoting harmful, unregulated vaping merchandise to folks of any age.

We should be pragmatic right here. We must always assist makes an attempt to implement the regulation because it stands. There may be nothing inherently improper with making an attempt to curb youth vaping by, for instance, levelling fines at outlets that fail to carry out ID checks. However it’s vital that we don’t deal with vaping the identical method we deal with cigarettes, that are much less secure, just because each comprise nicotine. Doing so would have extreme penalties not just for grownup people who smoke making an attempt to give up, but additionally for younger individuals who will possible be lured to purchase unregulated cigarettes and vapes on the black market as an alternative.

The federal government urgently wants to grasp that it can’t have the whole lot it needs. A part of the rationale e-cigarettes have been so profitable in driving down smoking is that they’re enticing merchandise. Not solely is vaping more healthy – it’s also cheaper and presents a wider collection of flavours.

If the federal government stigmatises vaping an excessive amount of, it’ll not be seen as a fascinating different to smoking. In any case, if it actually needs to curb youth smoking charges, then it ought to suppose twice about cracking down on the more healthy different.

Beginning a warfare on vaping is the very last thing we want.

Jack Rowlett is a author.

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