PARENTS have been urged to be on the lookout for dangerous products their children can pick up on the high street.
Experts are calling on the government to take urgent action on the rise of disposable vapes that could be damaging to kids.
The call to arms comes as an independent review into tobacco led by Dr Javed Khan OBE has recommended the age limit on products be increased every year – until no one can buy them.
One of the recommendations in the report, is that Brits trying to quit are offered vaping products.
Experts say they are not as dangerous as nicotine products – when it comes to research conducted on adults.
But, brands are selling low-cost disposable vapes with names like Skitle, which can be mistaken for the famous sweets.
Other products include those dubbed candy crush, unicorn shake and gummy bear.
New research has tested multiple vape liquids and disposable vapes available on the high street and has revealed more than a fifth of products contain banned substance diacetyl.
It’s a chemical added to e-liquids to give them a buttery flavour, and is known to cause bronchiolitis obliterans (popcorn lung), an obstructive disease of the small airways.
The NHS says vape products are less harmful than cigarettes and states that many people have stopped smoking through the use of these products.
However, some manufacturers have seemingly found ways to skirt legislation designed to keep consumers safe.
Broughton Life Sciences found that 25 out of 28 vape products tested were not legally compliant in the UK.
The research, in collaboration with JTI, found that nearly 80 per cent of the products tested used volumes of e-liquid higher than the 2ml currently allowed under the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR).
More than 10 per cent of the products contained more than the 20mg of nicotine allowed under current regulations.
Alongside products with appealing names, there is also growing concern around the packaging of the products.
Some designs resemble children’s toys such as fidget spinners, with other products lighting up.
Regulatory change is needed to ban youth appealing features and build checks of the products and packaging into the notification process
Brand images can also look like popular apps, games and cartoon characters.
Nicky Small, Fiscal & Regulatory Affairs Director at JTI UK told The Sun that while vape products should not appeal to anyone under the age of 18 – this is not the case.
“We continue to see a vast range of disposable vapes for sale in the UK with inappropriate naming and brightly coloured packaging that could appeal to children.
“The Government support the use of vaping products as a method to quit smoking, however irresponsible disposable vape products threaten the credibility of the category – regulatory change is needed to ban youth appealing features and build checks of the products and packaging into the notification process”.
The products are widely available in shops many kids go into regularly, like sweet shops and souvenir stores.
Recently a store on Oxford Street, London, was raided – with police confiscating 4,500 dodgy vape products found to contain excessive levels of nicotine.
Close to 3,000 tobacco products were also taken from the store.
While some popular heated tobacco brands and e-cigarette brands such as Ploom and Logic follow strict guidelines that stop them from using images and words that can be linked to youth culture, some other brands aren’t.
Many are getting around legislation as there is nothing specifically in place from the TRPR currently that prevents brands using marketing tricks to entice kids.
Experts at JTI have warned consumers to only buy compliant products from verified retailers and are calling for regulations to be amended in order to protect children from potentially deadly risks.
This includes changes to regulations to make sure e-liquids and non-nicotine products are regulated in the same way.
The main amendment would be a call for packaging to not be designed to appeal to those under the age of 18.
Much like how cigarette products feature damning images and explicit health warnings, the experts say images that are childlike in nature should not be displayed.
This would ensure only e-cigarettes that meet high safety, quality and packaging standards can be placed on the market, to ensure consumers are better protected and children’s access reduced.
The Charted Trading Standards Institute (CTIS) responded to Dr Khan’s report and stated that it recognises the importance of Nicotine Inhaling Products as an alternative to tobacco users.
It did however add that the legislation designed to protect non-smokers and particularly children is complex and confusing with many loopholes which can be exploited.
A spokesperson stated that labelling requirements should be reviewed to ensure vital information is included at an appropriate font size.
And that loopholes should be removed which permits the supply of products to adults or children free of charge.
An MHRA spokesperson said: “We are aware that there are non-compliant vaping products being used in the UK and work collaboratively with regional and national UK enforcement agencies and trade bodies to identify illegal products and distributors.
“If a product is found to be non-compliant, we support enforcement agencies in their investigations to tackle this and work with submitters of e-cigarette notifications to address allegations of non-compliance.
“You can check that a particular product has been successfully notified at the MHRA publication page. If you purchased a product that has not been published by the MHRA, please return it to the retailer or your local trading standards service.
“We encourage you to report any suspected side effects or safety concerns with e-cigarettes and the e-liquids used for vaping using our Yellow Card scheme website.”
Anyone who is aware of a retailer selling these products to children should report them immediately to Trading Standards 0808 223 1133.
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