MIRROR Online: LONDON, By John Stevens – Disposable vapes will be completely banned in a dramatic bid to stop youngsters becoming hooked.

New rules, which are set to come into force next year, will herald the end of throwaway Lost Marys and Elf Bars. Ministers will also get new powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops so they don’t appeal to children.

The Government argues the changes are needed to protect kids as figures show one in five has now tried vaping despite it being illegal for under-18s. E-cigarettes can be helpful for smokers wanting to quit, but there are worries that the addictive habit is being taken up by those who have never had cigarettes.

Research shows that half of those aged between 18 and 24 who use disposable vapes do so despite no history of smoking. Health campaigners have warned that they are being lured in by pocket money prices, with throwaway products available for as little as £3. There is also a problem with litter as five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week.

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins said: “The health advice is clear, vapes should only ever be used as a tool to quit smoking. But we are committed to doing more to protect our children from illicit underage vaping, and by banning disposable vapes we’re preventing children from becoming hooked for life.”

The ban on disposable vapes will apply in England, Wales and Scotland.

Under the changes, powers will be introduced to restrict flavours that are specifically marketed at children. Ministers could ban all flavours except tobacco, mint, menthol and fruit, but a final decision is yet to be made. New rules on packaging will be introduced to make the products less appealing to youngsters, but are yet to be decided.

The Government also will consult on rules on how vapes are displayed in shops, for example moving them out of sight of kids. New fines will be introduced for shops in England and Wales that sell vapes illegally to children. Ministers are still considering whether to introduce a new tax on vaping to make it less affordable for kids to take up the habit, although they are expected to wait to see the impact of the ban on disposables first.

HMRC will also announce a crackdown on the trade in illicit cigarettes and hand-rolling tobacco.

Rishi Sunak has already announced plans to raise the legal age you can buy cigarettes and tobacco in England, which is currently 18, by one year every year. If MPs approve the idea it will mean anyone who turns 15 this year, will never be allowed to purchase fags.

The Prime Minister last night said: “As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic. The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.”

Disposable vapes will be banned under the new rules Getty Images