Ealing Council has passed a motion calling for a total ban on disposable vapes in the borough in 2024. Although Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives were mostly on the same side, the vote wasn’t without the customary political sniping.
The motion calls for the council to use its licensing powers to limit the ability of shops in Ealing to sell disposable vapes.
In the sights of the Labour majority was the motion being brought forward by their Lib Dem counterparts in the first place, with several councillors saying there were more important issues to address and taking to the floor to defend the council’s record on enforcement of licensing objectives. However all speakers, from all parties, agreed that the ongoing issue of vapes and the protection of children was a priority for the borough.
Bringing forward the motion, Cllr Connie Hersch expressed her concerns over the marketing of the cigarette substitute to children. “The worst of these are disposable vapes which are cheap and come in candylike colours and flavours and they have found a new market and that is children and teenagers.”
She was followed by Cllr Bassam Mahfouz, who said that during his time in cabinet he had experienced a disturbing lack of concern from some shopkeepers regarding children purchasing vapes. He raised one example where a shop has been selling nicotine products to children in school uniforms.
“It had come to my knowledge that one particular shop I was aware of was actually not just selling [vapes] to young people but were selling it to young people in their school uniforms straight after school.”
Despite these concerns, the Labour amendment to the motion removed the Lib Dem’s effort to use licensing measures to stop the sale of vapes, changing it to praise the enforcement of council officers. Cllr Dierdre Costigan also raised the ecological impact of vapes citing the fact that the UK has 5 million disposable vapes being thrown away every week.
The government recently shut a consultation on a potential smoking and vaping ban that was open to the public after increasing political pressure and strain on the NHS due to the activities.
The amended motion passed with almost universal approval but it is unclear how it will manifest with a total ban in the borough likely unfeasible without government support.