Jeremy Hunt has rejected calls from health officials to introduce a new levy on single use vapes in next week’s Budget, i can reveal.
The Department of Health and Social Care has been pushing for the new tax to be introduced to disposable vapes such as the extremely popular Elf Bar brand as part of the Government’s plans to crack down on their use among children.
The proposals are expected to be included in the Government’s response to the Khan Review on smoking, which will also seek to clampdown on the worrying rise in vaping among under-18s.
But Treasury sources have told i that despite calls from officials in the health department, a new levy will not be included in what is expected to be a slimmed down Budget on 15 March.
“Department of Health officials are keen, but it’s not going to happen,” a source said.
The news will be greeted with disappointment by campaign groups, however, who have long been warning about the rapid increase in young people taking up vaping.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of health charity ASH, told i recently that “increasing the tax on single use disposable vapes in the March Budget would be easy to do and by making them less affordable could reduce both child vaping and the vast quantities of single use vapes being thrown into landfill”.
“Adult smokers find vaping useful in helping them quit, and that’s something we support. However, in the light of the recent increase in child vaping, government action is urgently needed to tighten regulation and increase enforcement,” Ms Arnott added.
As revealed by i last month, ministers are looking at a range of measures to stamp out the worrying rise in adolescents who vape.
Among the plans are a potential ban on candy-flavoured vaping liquids, such as bubblegum, and a crackdown on colourful marketing that is aimed at under-18s.
Such measures are understood to be part of the Government’s response to the Khan Review into smoking, which urged ministers to “do everything they possibly can to prevent children and young people from vaping, including by banning child friendly packaging and descriptions”.
It is illegal to sell vapes to anyone below the age of 18, but national surveys have shown an increasing trend of 11-17 year olds using the devices, with health leaders blaming the rise on the marketing and flavours associated with them.
Recent surveys have shown that the number of children taking up vaping has nearly doubled in two years.