Ban sale of vapes in supermarkets and stationeries, say campaigners

Anti-poverty campaigners say ban on tobacco use for young generations must be backed with ban on sale of vapes and cannabis smoking at home

Anti-poverty campaigners and Malta’s Catholics schools association have called for a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes in supermarkets and stationaries, as well as a ban on the now legal smoking and planting of cannabis in homes.

In a statement endorsed by the Anti-Poverty Forum, OASI, Catholic Schools Association, YMCA, SOS Malta, National Association of Pensioners, Soup Kitchen OFM Valletta, Saint Jeanne Antide Foundation, and the Paolo Freire Institute, the NGOs said they would back any initiative to limit tobacco smoking for young people.

“We welcome the government’s proposal to discuss the ban on the sale of cigarettes to a particular age-group of young people,” the NGOs said.

“In view of the proven negative health impacts of smoking, any initiative to limit smoking, and furthermore limit its uptake by new youngsters is a courageous step. The effort to improve the health of our younger generations is a breath of fresh air, particularly in the context of a society where the economic advancement of the few is often given precedence over the common good.”

The NGOs said it was concerned about the increase in the use of e-cigarettes amongst younger generations.

“Vapes are being sold to minors from a number of establishments, including stationery shops. These electronic cigarettes come in highlight colours to attract attention. Although more studies are coming out, research clearly shows that vapes are harmful to health, contradicting the false impression of many,” they said.

They also joined the call by the Medical Association of Malta on increasing concerns about cannabis, which was made legal in 2021. “we are observing an increasing number of children who are making use of cannabis, even openly near schools. These children maintain that they see no harm in using cannabis once it has been legalised, although research is continuously exposing new facts on harms originating from cannabis use.”

The NGOs said that while some entities approve of the initiative to ban smoking for younger generations, there is no disapproval of legal cannabis.

“One particular flaw is that the same cannabis law does not offer any protection to minors whose guardians decide to smoke or cultivate at home. Underlining the positive initiative to ban cigarettes for young people, we call on the general public, and especially parents, to support any kind of initiative that strengthens the physical, psychological and mental health of our children, in particular initiatives and activities that steer our younger generations away from any substance abuse and addictions.”