The Tories have accepted a £350,000 donation from a firm producing vapes despite pledging to crackdown on devices targeted at children.
The party registered the six figure sum from Supreme 8 Ltd, a firm which makes millions from the production and distribution of colourful vapes, in May, according to an investigation by the i.
It’s the party’s third largest donation in the second quarter of the year and comes despite Rishi Sunak’s pledge to tackle the marketing of vapes to children under the age of 18 in May.
Expressing concern that vapes could appeal to his two young daughters because of packaging that appears to be directed towards children, he argued companies “shouldn’t be deliberately targeting children.”
Sandeep Chadha, the registered director of Supreme 8, said the business had witnessed an “outstanding contribution” from vaping, with the distribution of Elf Bar and Lost Mary disposable vapes playing a significant role.
Earlier this week, the Tories received a £5 million donation from a healthcare entrepreneur.
A party source confirmed to the PA news agency that Frank Hester, founder and chief executive of The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) had donated the seven-figure sum as the party aims to boost its spending power ahead of the next general election.
Sky News, which first reported Mr Hester’s gift, said the sum is likely to be disclosed by the Electoral Commission when it publishes its latest quarterly data on political donations.
It comes after commission records show that TTP donated £11,300 to the Tories in February and also £145,000 in March.
Ministers promised to close a loophole in legislation which enables retailers to offer free vape samples to children, and launched a review into banning retailers selling “nicotine-free” vapes to under-18s.
According to a report from Supreme, the firm was the “largest producer of e-liquids by volume in the UK” producing “an average of over 250,000 bottles of e-liquid per working day.
The company, which also provides the devices to the probation and prison service warned of a “risk of government action to introduce more stringent laws and regulations surrounding vaping.”
A YouGov survey published in May revealed the number of children engaging in ‘experimental vaping’ has increased by more than 50% in the last year amid warnings of the dangers posed by e-cigarettes.
The poll, conducted for charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found experimental vaping among 11 to 17-year-olds in Britain increased from 7.7% to 11.6%.
Meanwhile, the number of children who admitted trying vaping once or twice has roughly doubled in the past nine years.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told the i: “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.
He added: “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.”
In June, paediatricians urged the government to ban all disposable electronic cigarette products over concerns surrounding children’s health and the environment.
Five million single-use vapes are discarded weekly in the UK, according to new data from the recycling campaign group Material Focus.
With some of the most popular devices available for as little as £2.99, the research found eight vapes are discarded every second in the UK.