The U.K. is set to launch “illicit vapes enforcement squads” as part of a crackdown on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to youth under the age of 18, reports Sky News.
Led by Trading Standards, the squads will work across the country and share knowledge across regional networks and local authorities.
The government says its priority is to prevent people from smoking and to support them to quit. It has admitted vaping is a preferable alternative for adults.
However, it recognizes it has issues with illegal sales to children and illicit vapes being introduced into the market.
Neil O’Brien, the health minister who will unveil the new plans, said the new illicit vapes enforcement squad will work across the country and clamp down on those businesses that sell vapes to children.
“Our call for evidence will also allow us to get a firm understanding of the steps we can take to reduce the number of children accessing and using vapes,” he said.
Smoker rights group Forest welcomed the knowledge-focused approach. “Education is always better than coercion, so we’re pleased the government appears to favor the carrot not the stick approach to smoking cessation,” said Forest director Simon Clark.
“Vaping is a significantly less harmful alternative to smoking, so it makes sense to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes.
“If, however, adult smokers still prefer to smoke tobacco, government must respect that choice.”