CANDY-flavoured vapes could be banned by the government in a bid to crackdown on the thousands of kids using them.
Concerns have been raised regarding the alarming trend after the number of teens vaping almost doubled in two years.
Despite having an 18+ age requirement, surveys suggest a worrying amount of 11 to 17-year-olds are using the devices.
Officials suspect the varying tastes – including bubblegum, candy floss, strawberry, blueberry and cola – prompt young people to pick them up.
Eye-catching marketing campaigns aimed at adolescents may also be banned to put a stop to the influx of child vapers.
An Observer investigation in July last year found Chinese-owned company Elf Bar were flouting rules to promote its products to youngsters in the UK.
The products were reportedly promoted by social influencers, who in some cases claimed to have been paid for the posts and benefited from free products.
Ministers are also debating discouraging e-cigs by introducing a levy on disposable vapes, such as Elf Bars.
It is understood the Department for Health is looking at the benefits of a tax – but it will likely be blocked by the Treasury.
Industry figures last night told Jeremy Hunt a vape tax would be “counterproductive” as it helps smokers kick the habit.
Although it would ruffle feathers in the booming industry, charities and campaigners are staunchly behind the proposals.
The plans have been put forward as part of the government’s response to the Khan Review into smoking.
The damning report urged ministers to “do everything they possibly can to prevent children and young people from vaping, including by banning child-friendly packaging and descriptions”.
It also suggested increasing the smoking age each year could combat the UK’s cigarette crisis.
A senior government source with knowledge of the plans told inews Downing Street will respond to the review in the spring.
They added: “It will look at vaping, with the benefits it has for getting people to stop smoking.
“Obviously, when it comes to kids vaping, we do have to nip it in the bud.”
Sir Chris Whitty warned this week that the country must crackdown on vaping kids as numbers continue to climb.
The straight-talking health chief said the marketing of the products towards teens was “utterly unacceptable”.
He explained some brands are “clearly marketed at children” and it should not be allowed.
Ministers in Scotland are considering a ban on disposable vapes and one Elf Bar product has already been taken off sale for containing too much nicotine.
Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, called for a new tax on disposables to be included in next month’s Budget.
She said: “Children who vape mainly use cheap disposables, which are attractive, brightly coloured and cheap, they’re widely available for under a fiver.
“Increasing the tax on single use disposable vapes in the March Budget would be easy to do and by making them less affordable could reduce both child vaping and the vast quantities of single use vapes being thrown into landfill.”
John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), backed the government plans to stop vapes from being obtained by children.
But he said it’s on the condition any regulations around “marketing, disposables and flavours is proportionate and targeted.”
The Advertising Standards Authority said it was “keenly aware” that the marketing of vapes to children was an “area where people have a lot of concerns”.
A spokesman added: “We’re continuing to monitor the situation and review our policies, which includes discussions with the Department of Health and Social Care on the regulation of new products, to ensure that we’re protecting vulnerable audiences from any potential harms linked to e-cigarette advertising.”
Scientists say e-cigs are safer than tobacco but they still do not fully understand the risks.