This week in Parliament, Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border, urged faster action in order to protect young people from being harmed by illicit use of disposable vaping products, during a cross-party Westminster Hall debate on the Government’s commitment to end tobacco smoking by 2030.
In this debate, he also raised his concern with the Minister concerning the impact of disposable vapes on animals and called for more public awareness of the wider risks of vapes to human and animal health, as well as the environment.
Dr Neil Hudson has consistently raised the alarm about an alarming trend of a rise in the use of disposable vaping products among young people, despite it being illegal to sell disposable vapes to under-18s. According to Action on Smoking Health (ASH), in 2022, 7.0% of 11–17-year-olds were current users, compared to 3.3% in 2021.
Dr Hudson, the only vet in the Commons also raised the risks to animals, citing his recent experience with his own dog Poppy who picked up a vape on a walk.
He has spoken out about the need not only to tackle illicit vape sales, but to regulate against practices that make products appeal to young people, including attractive flavours and social media advertising. He has asked several Parliamentary questions, has raised this with Ministers in the Chamber, and led a Commons debate on youth vaping.
So far in response to concerns around vaping and young people, the Government have launched an illicit vapes enforcement squad to crackdown on selling vapes to under-18s, closed a loophole that allowed under-18s to have free samples, and are currently undertaking a consultation concerning vape sales and marketing. This is in part thanks to the campaigning of Dr Hudson and Parliamentary colleagues on this issue.
Following the debate, Dr Neil Hudson commented:
“I do not believe it to be exaggeration that our young people are at risk of a public health ticking time bomb from the illicit sale and use of disposable vaping products. I absolutely welcome the Government’s commitment on this issue, and its action to back this up, including a new illicit vapes enforcement squad and banning samples, to keep these products out of the hands of those who should not be using them.
However, there is still more that can be done to protect our young people and ensure vapes help end nicotine addiction in adults rather than create new ones in our young people. I am resolved to ensure that action is taken as soon as possible to protect our young people, the environment and even animal health.”
In Westminster Hall, Dr Hudson said;
“Whilst I acknowledge that vaping has a role for adults to quit tobacco smoking, there are unintended consequences of youth vaping, as my hon. Friend is starting to elaborate. We have seen a surge in such vaping, and there are huge health and environmental concerns. As he said, the products are targeted at young people, with colourful packaging and flavouring. The Government have taken some strong steps. Does my hon. Friend agree that we need to go faster to stop this unintended public-health ticking time bomb?"
"I want to raise the risks they pose to animals. Just the other day, I was out walking my young dog Poppy and she came out of the undergrowth with a bright pink, melon-flavoured disposable vape in her mouth. I was able to get it out of her mouth, but, as a vet, I shudder to think what would have happened if she had chewed, crunched or swallowed it. Does my hon. Friend agree that we need more public awareness of the risks of vapes to health, the environment and even animals?"
Dr Hudson’s previous work on this issue:
Sunday Express Article on vaping by Dr Hudson: https://www.express.co.uk/comment/expresscomment/1781806/vaping-children-measures-crackdown-comment