The Conservatives have accepted a £350,000 donation from a company which sells vaping products with names like Watermelon Bubblegum and Cotton Candy Ice, despite the Government pledging to crack down on vapes aimed at children.
Rishi Sunak’s party received the money from Supreme 8 Ltd in May, latest records published by the Electoral Commission reveal.
Supreme 8 is owned by Sandeep Singh Chadha, the chief executive of parent company Supreme PLC, a Manchester-based vaping, lighting and battery distributor and manufacturer.
Among the vaping products it distributes for wholesale and trade are Elf Bar, a Chinese-owned firm which has been criticised for marketing vapes to younger age groups.
Supreme currently sells lines of Elf Bar brands including disposable vapes named Blue Razz Cherry, Watermelon Bubblegum and Cotton Candy Ice.
Elf Bar itself denies targeting youngsters and says its packaging and marketing products must contain a warning indicating that “it is forbidden to sell this product to children”.
But the Labour Party said the names of the vapes were clearly aimed at a younger market.
In May – the same month the Supreme 8 donation was made to the Tories – the Prime Minister pledged to curb marketing of vapes aimed at under-18s.
Mr Sunak had said he was “deeply concerned” about a reported increase in children vaping and pledged the Government would regulate the market and promotion of vapes, adding: “[Companies] shouldn’t be deliberately targeting children, that’s illegal. If we need to take further action to do that, that’s what we will do.”
And in a tweet the Prime Minister had said: “My daughters are 10 and 12, and I don’t want the way vapes are marketed, promoted and sold to be attractive to them. That’s why I am launching a new crackdown today to protect children.”
Shadow Health Secretary Wes Streeting said: “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.
“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.”
The Conservative Party and Supreme PLC were both contacted for comment.
At the annual conference of the British Medical Association in July, delegates criticised vaping products targeted at children.
Dr Penelope Toff, chair of the BMA Public Health Medicine Committee, told the conference: “The area of most concern is that, with their bright colours and packaging, stylised designs, sweetshop-inspired flavours and relatively inexpensive price, these products are clearly being made to appeal to children and young people.”
In an article in the Times in May, Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Chris Whitty wrote that marketing vaping products to children was “utterly unacceptable” adding: “Companies are marketing products targeted specifically at children using colours, flavours and cheap disposable options, whatever they may claim.”