BAT urges stricter U.K. vape regulations to curb youth use

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BAT urges stricter U.K. vape regulations to curb youth use
Credit: © Reuters.

British American Tobacco (NYSE: BTI ) (BAT (LON: BATS )) is advocating for stronger regulatory measures on e-cigarettes in the UK, including a licensing system for vape sales that mirrors those for alcohol and cigarettes. The tobacco giant, which owns brands such as Rothmans and Dunhill, has called for a crackdown on sales to minors and the elimination of youth-centric flavors like gummy bear. This stance contrasts with products from competitors such as Elfbar.

The company's push for heightened regulation comes as the UK government mulls over new vaping laws amidst a public consultation due to conclude on December 6th. Following this, new legislation is expected to be introduced. Recent survey results from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) indicate a worrying trend, with vaping experimentation among children reported at 20.5%. Additionally, the Local Government Association has highlighted environmental and safety concerns regarding single-use vapes.

BAT's position includes opposition to outright bans on disposable vapes. Asli Ertonguc from BAT has expressed concerns that total prohibitions could lead to unregulated markets. Despite criticism from health groups for their continued reliance on cigarette profits in the face of rising incidents of youth vaping, BAT supports the UK's long-term goal of becoming smoke-free. The company maintains its stance against restrictions on vibrant packaging and advertising, arguing that these are essential to encourage smokers to transition to less harmful alternatives. BAT's involvement in sponsoring McLaren in motor racing underscores their commitment to promoting their products within existing regulations.

In an upcoming advertising campaign, BAT plans to demand strict vape regulations, including a prohibition on dessert-like flavors that appeal to younger audiences – flavors that BAT does not sell. The campaign counters ASH's proposal for a £4 tax per disposable vape aimed at preventing "pocket money prices." BAT advocates for moderate tax increases that won't deter smokers from switching to vaping and calls for harsher penalties for illegal vape sales and more effective law enforcement practices. They also recommend introducing disposable vapes with removable batteries to address environmental concerns.

BAT's multifaceted approach reflects its strategy to balance profit interests with regulatory compliance and societal pressures as it navigates the evolving landscape of smoking and vaping in the UK.

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