Weak Enforcement of UK E-Cigarette Regulations

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Weak Enforcement of UK E-Cigarette Regulations
Mark Littlewood, an expert from UK think tank IEA, believes that current e-cigarette regulations in the UK are active in legislation but weak in enforcement.

On the afternoon of September 19th, at the 2023 GTNF Forum, 2FIRSTS interviewed Mark Littlewood, an expert from the UK-based free-market think tank, the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA). Mark believes that the current e-cigarette regulation policy in the UK is active on the legislative side, but weak in enforcement. Moreover, the government's ban on disposable e-cigarettes may lead to the flourishing of the black market due to inadequate enforcement measures currently in place.


According to reports, IEA is an educational charity organization and the oldest free-market think tank in the UK, founded in 1955. On September 12, the think tank released an article titled "Disposable vape ban could cost lives," in which the author argues that prohibiting disposable e-cigarettes would restrict the choices of millions of adult smokers who could have benefited from switching to disposable e-cigarettes.


Mark, the Executive Director of the IEA, expresses confusion over the UK's plan to ban disposable e-cigarettes. Despite the UK already having enacted a series of laws pertaining to e-cigarettes, he believes that enforcement efforts have not kept up with the frequent changes in legislation.


He pointed out that it has been easy for people to obtain illegal e-cigarette products, reflecting a problem of weak enforcement. In stark contrast, the enforcement of underage drinking in the UK is relatively robust, as very few individuals under the age of 18 can legally purchase alcoholic beverages.


Similar viewpoints are also expressed in the aforementioned article.


E-cigarettes are considered life-saving products and can only be legally sold to individuals aged 18 and above. We do not ban apple cider just because some teenagers drink it. We do not ban 18+ movies just because some teenagers watch them. The reason for the smoking ban is not solely because some teenagers smoke.


Mark expressed to 2FIRSTS that the UK government should pay greater attention to the enforcement of the e-cigarette market, rather than solely relying on new regulations for control. He emphasized that only through enhanced enforcement can the circulation of illegal e-cigarette products be effectively reduced, thus ensuring the legitimacy and safety of the market.


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