Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Written evidence submitted by Dr Jasmine Khouja, Senior Research Associate in Smoking Studies, University of Bristol (TVB18)  

1.1 Executive summary


· There appears to be low demand for tobacco among those born on or after 1 January 2009, so restricting age of sale should not result in youth seeking tobacco on a black market.

· Restrictions on e-cigarette flavours may result in an increase in smoking rates in the UK. Before implementing a flavour restriction, a thorough impact assessment should be undertaken.

· Young people are able to access vapes in shops without being asked for ID, but some young people we surveyed suggested that these businesses should be fined.

· Younger adults are interested in other nicotine products in the event their preferred vaping product is restricted. Youth accessibility of these products should be restricted.

1.2 The submitter


Written evidence submitted by Dr Jasmine Khouja, Senior Research Associate in Smoking Studies at the University of Bristol  (research profile: Dr Khouja is a member of the University of Bristol’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group ( who conduct research into the psychological and biological factors underlying health behaviours. The motivation for submitting this evidence is to provide the committee with recent, unpublished findings conducted by researchers at the University of Bristol. This submission was reviewed by:

· Marcus Munafo – Professor of Biological Psychology, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University of Bristol

· Olivia Maynard – Senior Lecturer, Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group, University of Bristol

· Rhiannon Wilson – Policy Bristol Associate, Policy Bristol, University of Bristol

2.1 Age of sale of cigarettes


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will make it an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009. In a survey (currently unpublished) of 196 young people (11-17 years) in the Southwest of England we have found that:

· 43 (22%) of the young people had tried vaping whereas only 26 (13%) had tried tobacco (cigarettes or roll ups).

· None of the respondents were daily tobacco users, indicating that tobacco dependence is low among these youth.

· Of those who had not tried vaping or smoking, 90% said they definitely would not try tobacco, 7% would probably not, 2% were unsure, and 1% probably would.

· Most (82%) of those who had not tried vaping or smoking had not even been curious about using tobacco, only 14% had been somewhat curious and 3% had been curious.

Although this data was collected from an opportunistic sample, this evidence supports existing evidence suggesting that demand for tobacco among this generation is low. Therefore, restricting sale to these individuals before implementing restrictions on their preferred nicotine products (e.g., vapes) may reduce the likelihood of these young people accessing tobacco as a substitute.

2.2 Reducing appeal of vapes to youth


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will allow the Secretary of State to make regulations restricting vape flavours to reduce appeal to youth. Using a policy decision aid that was originally commissioned by Public Health England, we have estimated that:

· Restricting flavours to tobacco, menthol and unflavoured vapes could prevent 98,098 young people (11-20 years) who have never smoked from vaping.

· Under the assumption that vaping acts as a gateway to smoking, restricting flavours may prevent 36,297 of these young people from trying smoking.

· 565,968 adults who smoke and who have quit smoking would not stop smoking or would start smoking again if flavours were restricted.

· There would be a similar negative impact on those who are more socially disadvantaged and if the restrictions were limited to disposable products.

· Restricting e-cigarette flavours would likely lead to a negative overall impact on population health.

This assessment was updated on 28th April 2024 using the most recently available evidence and population estimates.

The findings support our qualitative findings (in press). Although not all our participants who smoked or vaped thought they would be affected by a restriction on flavours, some said they would not have been able to stop smoking, they may start smoking again, or they would not bother trying to quit smoking using e-cigarettes if flavours were not available.

This currently unpublished evidence suggests that any restrictions implemented should be carefully considered, preferably in a thorough impact assessment, to avoid unintended consequences such as an increase in smoking rates.

2.3 Reducing vape availability to youth & strengthening enforcement


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill will prevent the free distribution of vaping products to children and will enable on-the-spot fines for those selling vape products to under-18s in England and Wales.

In our opportunistic survey of 196 young people in the Southwest of England, we asked 36 young people who had ever vaped where they usually sourced their vapes:

· 6 were able to buy vapes from vape shops (17%).

· 10 were able to buy vapes from other shops (28%).

· 3 were accessing vapes via the internet (9%).

· 9 bought them from someone / got someone to buy vapes for them (25%).

· 23 usually got their vapes from a friend (64%).

Strengthening enforcement and preventing youth from accessing vapes via the shops / the internet (including apps) should make vapes less accessible, however, it is not clear if those who are buying/accessing products from others are accessing vapes from an illicit market.

We found that some respondents were using vapes with higher nicotine concentrations than should be allowed on the market currently, meaning they can currently access illicit products. In open-ended responses, some participants noted that vapes were being advertised by shops very close to their schools.

In workshops with ten young people (aged 12-16 years) in the Southwest, they also discussed the advertising of vapes near to schools, and some noted that none of the school pupils were being asked for ID and they suggested fining these shops.

This evidence suggests that youth can access products via shops (sometimes without being asked for ID) and some young people would be supportive of those businesses being fined.

2.4 Other nicotine products


The Tobacco and Vapes Bill would make it an offence to freely distribute nicotine to under-18s in England and Wales.

In interviews with young adults (18-30 years) in the UK who regularly used disposable vapes, younger vapers shared that they were interested in using a range of nicotine products when disposable vapes are banned.

Although the restriction of disposable vapes is not covered in this Bill, the findings highlight the interest in other nicotine products if young people’s chosen product becomes unavailable or less attractive.

Products which the young people were willing to substitute for disposable vapes (or try in their absence) included tobacco cigarettes, nicotine pouches (often described as snus), nicotine patches, and other vaping products which remained on the market.

This evidence supports Clauses 9, 43 and 44, as young people may seek other nicotine products if their preferred product is restricted or made less attractive. Closing loopholes that enable nicotine products to be freely distributed should reduce the risk of young people switching to other nicotine products.

3.1 Evidence links


Pre-print of the methodology used in the policy decision aid to estimate the impact of restricting flavours in vapes:

Study protocol for the survey of 198 young people in the Southwest of England:

Study protocol for the study conducting interviews with young people who use disposable vapes:

The data described in this submission is not currently available online but can be made available on request ( and will be posted online to or at the time of publication.

April 2024


Prepared 2nd May 2024