Tories accept £350,000 donation from vape firm despite crackdown on e-cigarettes for children

Rishi Sunak had promised ‘crackdown’ on vaping products targeted at children

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Friday 08 September 2023 08:42 BST
<p>Rishi Sunak said he would crack down on vapes aimed at children</p>

Rishi Sunak said he would crack down on vapes aimed at children

The Conservatives have accepted a £350,000 donation from a company producing colourful vapes despite a crackdown on e-cigarette products aimed at children.

Rishi Sunak’s party took the six-figure sum from Supreme 8 Ltd in May, the latest Electoral Commission records show.

The company’s director is listed as Sandeep Chadha, chief executive of Supreme Plc – which sells vape products with names like Watermelon Bubblegum and Cotton Candy Ice.

Mr Sunak said earlier this year he was worried that vapes would be “attractive” to his two young daughters because of the flavours and packaging targeting children.

The PM promised a “crackdown” on the marketing of vapes to under-18s back in May, when he warned that firms “shouldn’t be deliberately targeting children”.

Ministers pledged to close a loophole allowing retailers to give free samples of vapes to children, and launched a review into banning retailers selling “nicotine-free” vapes to under-18s.

Supreme sells products by Elf Bar, a brand which makes vapes such as Razz Cherry, Cotton Candy Ice and Watermelon Bubblegum. Elf Bar has denies targeting children and packaging contain a warning indicating that “it is forbidden to sell this product to children”.

“We’re sleepwalking into a new generation of children getting hooked on nicotine – yet the Tories are lining their own pockets ahead of protecting children’s health,” Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the i, which first reported on the Supreme donation.

Mr Streeting added: “How can Rishi Sunak pretend otherwise, when he’s taking money from a company selling Watermelon Bubblegum and Cotton Candy Ice flavoured vapes?

“Labour will come down like a tonne of bricks on those peddling vapes to kids. We will ban the marketing and branding of vapes to children and give every child a healthy start to life.”

Rishi Sunak said the government would crack down on vaping among children

The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it was “deeply concerned” about the long-term health impact of e-cigarettes on “young lungs, hearts and brains”.

The Tory donation comes as a recycling campaign group found that five million single-use vapes are discarded weekly in the UK – a fourfold surge compared to 2022.

Material Focus, the non-profit organisation that conducted the research said that eight vapes are discarded every second in the UK, and the lithium found in these products has the potential to produce 5,000 electric car batteries annually.

Meanwhile, the latest figures show that Labour raised almost £7.5m in donations between April and June this year, continuing one of the most successful fundraising periods in the party’s history.

While Labour continued to receive funds from trade unions, the boost in its war chest came mainly from private individuals who donated more than £6m. The bulk of the money came from just two individuals. Lord Sainsbury provided £3m, while former Autoglass boss Gary Lubner gave £2.3m.

Figures published by the Electoral Commission also show the Conservatives enjoyed a successful three months after a challenging 2022, raising £9.9m in donations. More than half of that came from health entrepreneur Frank Hester, whose £5 million gift was revealed earlier this week.

The donations build on a successful fundraising start to 2023, in which the Conservatives have raised £22m so far. Turmoil within the party saw donations fall to just £7.5m in the second half of last year, contributing to an overall loss for 2022.

Supreme PLC and the Conservatives have been contacted for comment.

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