WQ93042 (e) Tabled on 29/05/2024

What action will the Welsh Government be taking to tackle youth vaping and smoking given that the the UK Government’s Tobacco and Vapes Bill will not now become law during this Parliament?

Answered by Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care | Answered on 03/06/2024

The negative impacts of smoking on our health and wellbeing are well known and I am extremely disappointed the UK Tobacco and Vapes Bill did not progress through UK Parliament before its dissolution ahead of the General Election. We had worked closely with the UK Government and the other Devolved Governments on the development of the Bill to ensure it reflected Wales’s public health ambitions.

Smoking is a huge burden on our NHS and social care services and contributes significantly to health. We will continue to highlight the need for this essential and world-leading legislation – which is supported by all Chief Medical Officers across the UK.

 We are committed to our ambitious target of achieving a smoke-free Wales by 2030, reducing smoking levels in our communities to 5% or less. I am looking at all opportunities available to meet our smokefree Wales ambition and will continue to consider legislative options to strengthen our approach to eradicating smoking from our society and to keep vapes out of the hands of children and young people.

To support children and young people, we run the JustB Smoke Free programme which operates in socio-economically disadvantaged areas to prevent the uptake of smoking.

Public Health Wales’ Vaping Among Children and Young People Incident Response Group published their report on 18 April which sought to fully understand the scale of the issue in Wales. The Welsh Government will consider the report’s recommendations carefully in due course.

In September 2023 Public Health Wales published ‘Information and Guidance on Vaping for Secondary-aged learners in Wales’. Building on this, Public Health Wales have developed new resources for teachers to understand the impact of vaping on learners and how to incorporate that understanding into their teaching, which are currently being piloted.

As the prevalence of e-cigarette use increases across both adults and children and young people in Wales, Help Me Quit (HMQ) is experiencing increased demand for vaping support. In response to this demand, there is recognition that the current HMQ service offer may need to evolve to reflect the rapidly evolving landscape in respect of e-cigarettes/vaping. Public Health Wales are exploring how services can be adapted to better support those experiencing any form of nicotine addiction.

We will take action on single-use vapes. These products have significant environmental impacts and are an important driver of the recent increase in youth vaping. We recently announced our intention to ban these products from 1 April 2025.