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E-cigarette ban for under-18s


By Will Roberts

It will be illegal for under-18s to buy electronic cigarettes under new legislation proposed by the government.

The new law is due to be introduced by the autumn as part of changes to the Children and Families Bill.

It will also outlaw 'proxy purchasing' - when someone over 18 buys cigarettes on behalf of someone who is unable to.

Department of Health figures show that 41 per cent of 15-year-olds who smoke say they usually buy their cigarettes from other people rather than from a shop.

Fines for adults buying cigarettes for under-18s

Adults who are found guilty of proxy purchasing will be given a £50 fixed penalty notice or handed a fine of up to £2,500, under the proposals.

The popularity of e-cigarettes is increasing all the time, with an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK now using them regularly.

However, the government is keen to make sure that this does not lead to an increase in teenagers using them and potentially moving on to real cigarettes.

Public Health Minister and Conservative MP Jane Ellison said: "Two thirds of smokers say they smoked regularly before they were 18, showing this is an addiction largely taken up in childhood.

"We must do all we can to help children lead a healthy life.

'Protect children from dangers of cigarettes'

"That's why this measure is designed to help protect children from the dangers of being bought cigarettes by irresponsible adults."

There is a general consensus that tobacco-less e-cigarettes are a preferred alternative to traditional cigarettes, but some health experts are worried about their long term effects.

They contain the highly addictive drug nicotine, which may reinforce a behaviour of smoking, making it harder to give up in the long term.

England's chief medical officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies, said: "We do not yet know the harm that e-cigarettes can cause to adults let alone to children, but we do know they are not risk free.

"E-cigarettes can produce toxic chemicals and the amount of nicotine and other chemical constituents, including vaporised flavourings, varies between products.

"This means they could be extremely damaging to young people's health."

No current restrictions on e-cigarettes

At the moment there is no restriction on young people buying e-cigarettes, which are hugely popular with teenagers.

Many secondary schools across the UK are worried the devices act as a gateway to smoking so have banned the devices, which were initially designed to help smokers quit.

The number of people smoking in the UK has fallen to its lowest ever total, mainly thanks to a ban on smoking in public places and high profile advertising campaigns.

But despite this smoking is still one of the biggest causes of death and illness in the UK.

It is thought that each year some 100,000 people die from smoking, which is linked to other killer illnesses such as heart disease and stroke.

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