The Conservatives have accepted a £350,000 donation from a company that makes colorful e-cigarettes amid a crackdown on e-cigarette products for children.
Rishi Sunak’s party took in six figures from Supreme 8 Ltd in May, latest Electoral Commission records show.
The company’s director is listed as Sandeep Chadha, managing director of Supreme Plc – which sells vape products with names such as Watermelon Bubblegum and Cotton Candy Ice.
Mr Sunak said earlier this year he was worried e-cigarettes could be “attractive” to his two young daughters because the flavors and packaging were tailored to children.
The Prime Minister promised a “tough crackdown” on the marketing of e-cigarettes to under-18s back in May, when he warned that companies “should not deliberately target children”.
Ministers vowed to close a loophole allowing retailers to give children free samples of e-cigarettes and launched a review to ban retailers from selling “nicotine-free” e-cigarettes to under-18s.
Supreme sells products from Elf Bar, a brand that makes vapes like Razz Cherry, Cotton Candy Ice and Watermelon Bubblegum. Elf Bar denies that it targets children, and the packaging contains a warning indicating that “the sale of this product to children is prohibited.”
“We are sleepwalking into a new generation of children addicted to nicotine – but the Tories are lining their own pockets before protecting children’s health,” Labor shadow health secretary Wes Streeting told i, which first reported on the Supreme -Donation reported.
Mr Streeting added: “How can Rishi Sunak pretend otherwise when he is taking money from a company that sells e-cigarettes flavored with watermelon bubblegum and cotton candy ice cream?
“The work will fall like a ton of bricks on the e-cigarettes sold to children. “We will ban the marketing and branding of e-cigarettes to children and give every child a healthy start in life.”
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said it was “deeply concerned” about the long-term health effects of e-cigarettes on “young lungs, hearts and brains”.
The Tory donation comes after a recycling campaign group found five million disposable vapes are thrown away every week in the UK – a four-fold increase compared to 2022.
Material Focus, the charity that conducted the research, said eight e-cigarettes are thrown away every second in the UK and the lithium contained in these products has the potential to make 5,000 electric car batteries a year.
Meanwhile, the latest figures show Labor raised almost £7.5 million in donations between April and June this year, continuing one of the most successful fundraising periods in the party’s history.
While Labor continued to receive funding from unions, the boost to its war chest came mainly from private individuals, who donated more than £6 million. The majority of the money came from just two individuals. Lord Sainsbury gave £3m, while former Autoglass boss Gary Lubner donated £2.3m.
Figures released by the Electoral Commission also show that after a challenging 2022, the Conservatives enjoyed three months of success, raising £9.9 million in donations. More than half of this came from healthcare entrepreneur Frank Hester, whose £5 million donation was announced earlier this week.
The donations build on a successful fundraising launch in 2023, which has seen the Conservatives raise £22 million so far. Due to unrest within the party, donations fell to just £7.5 million in the second half of last year, contributing to an overall loss for 2022.
Supreme PLC and the Conservatives have been contacted for comment.