There is no hiding from Disposable Vapes at the moment as they are everywhere at the moment. In people’s hands, vast selections available in every corner shop you go in, sadly discarded on the streets in high volumes, and also constantly in the news and media, and not for good reasons either sadly.
Recently, there has been calls from both Scotland and England’s ministers to Parliament for Disposable Vapes to be BANNED from sale in the UK. And with the constant negative press that is coming out about them, one can’t help but think some form of prohibition or restrictions are going to be imposed on them in the not so distant future.
Action on Smoking and Health recently published a brief regarding their policy recommendations towards to Government in what they could possibly enforce in a bid to combat the ever increasing numbers of youth vaping which are being reported, with Disposables playing a part in these numbers rising. In this article, I’m going to look at their recommendations and give my views on them and discuss why I think they’re either a good thing or a bad thing.
The current state of affairs with Disposable Vapes in the UK
Disposable Vapes have been around on the market for a while now, but it’s only in the last maybe 6 months they’ve really gained traction in popularity, and you can’t go anywhere these days without seeing someone using one, selling them, or seeing them discarded on the streets as you’re walking around. And it’s for all those things that they have been the hot topic on everyone’s lips and in media outlets also.
Calls for bans and regulations on these devices from anti-vaping campaigners have been coming through thick and fast, with the common denominator being the desire and want to protect youth’s from picking these easily accessible and convenient devices up and using them, forming a potentially unnecessary addiction to Nicotine.
There has been several large news stories surrounding Disposable Vapes since the turn of the year into 2023, which I’ll document below.
Waitrose becomes first supermarket to ban “single use vapes”
At the beginning of 2023, Waitrose became the first major supermarket in the UK to ban the sale of single use vaping devices effective immediately. Whilst they did not stock Disposables such as Elfbars, they did still stock and sell the 10Motives brand which are considered as a “Single use vape”
Their move to do this was backed with the reasoning they wanted to help combat the amount of single use vapes being sold and available on today’s markets, and also in a bid to combat the ever rising numbers of youths using single use vaping devices.
I’ve written a separate article covering this topic which you can read by clicking the link
Scotland makes steps towards banning Disposable Vapes
In early February of this year, news broke from Scotland which took the helm of the biggest vaping related news to come from the UK in some time, and that was the detail of their intention to hard push for Disposable Vapes to be banned from sale in the country due to the unsustainability of them, causing no end of issues for recycling and waste centres, as well as preventing youths from using them and fighting against the surge of underage users using Disposables.
I’ve written a separate article about this subject as well, but within this article I question how long it would be before England or another neighbouring country in the UK would follow suit with something similar, and the answer was not very long…
Dr Caroline Johnson puts forward a bill to prohibit the sales of Disposable Vapes
Within the space of 10 days from Scotland’s announcement, Dr Caroline Johnson came forward to publicly announce that she would be reading a Bill written by herself calling for the prohibition of sale of Disposable Vapes in England.
I’ve also written a separate article about this, which documents the bill that Dr Johnson read in Parliament, and I give my views on it and a detailed annotation of it. Dr Johnson’s motives for this prohibition being introduced is to prevent youth vaping numbers increasing, as well as protecting the environment from the discarded Disposables that are littering the streets and filling up landfill in great volumes.
You’re probably noticing a trend here with everyone’s reasonings for wanting to ban Disposables right?
Along comes ASH
As I mentioned at the start of this article, Action on Smoking and Health have recently published their recommendations to the Government on some small yet more than likely effective solutions which could help combat the youth vaping numbers from increasing more than they currently are, and I’m going to look at them in detail which of course is the whole basis of this article!
ASH says that their set of policies that they recommend to the Government fall in line with the report that was commissioned by Dr Javed Khan, who made an independent review on Making Smoking Obsolete.
Within that report, he made several critical recommendations for what could be done to help encourage and speed up the process on England becoming a Smoke Free country by their projected end date of 2030, because as it stands, the target date is going to be missed by quite some way.
I’m going to pick out a few key recommendations that ASH makes that I think stands out and could be an effective quick term solution if they are introduced
Reduce the affordability of Disposable E-Cigs to make them less accessible to children. Implement an excise tax on single use vaping device.
They make a strong starting point here, by suggesting an excise tax be introduced on Disposables to make them less affordable for children. Currently the price of a Disposable device is around £5-£6 per device, which really isn’t a lot of money, and it’s pocket money to most. And with these devices being hugely popular amongst youths and underage users, as well as them being able to buy them in shops that are not operating the correct policies of Challenge 25, making them more pricey should be the first port of call.
An excise tax of £4 per device is suggested by ASH, making them near double what they currently are being retailed at.
This also would help with the environmental issues these devices are causing, as if they are more expensive to everyone across the board, this may see the sales and usage of them drop not only amongst youths, but also all users.
Reduce the appeal to children by introducing stricter regulations of packaging, labelling, point of sale advertising and promotion.
Another good point raised here and one I agree with. I’ve been on side with this suggestion for a while, that the dulling down of packaging could only be a good thing to discourage them being appealing to children. We saw it happen to cigarette packets, with them having their packaging dulled right down, and it’s unknown if this has had a massive impact but still, something was done for the right reasons which is the main thing.
The colours of Disposables are definitely going to be appealing to a younger audience, and they look “cool and trendy” to be used in friendship groups. Something plain and simple may very well not be so trendy looking.
Reduce underage access to Disposable Vapes by increasing funding for enforcement, put vapes behind the counter, mandatory age verification process
This is the last recommendation I’m going to discuss as the key ones I picked out, and I feel it’s one that really needs the most attention based on the current state of the situation at hand.
Every single week, Trading standards agencies across the UK are carrying out raids on shops and seizing countless amounts of Disposable Vapes that are not legal to be sold in the UK. These shops they are being seized from are also the types of shops that have no regard to operating a Challenge 25 policy, and selling Disposable Vapes to underage users which has been well documented in the media in recent times.
However, local Trading Standards Agencies are under huge pressure and strain due to the sheer work load they have and they sadly do not have the full amount of resources needed to keep up with the work load demand.
ASH make a suggestion that the money that goes to the MHRA from companies who are notifying them of new E-Cigarettes going onto the market goes towards the funding of more support for TSA’s so they can carry on doing the great work they are already doing.
Putting Disposables behind the counter does come as quite common sense really, but some shops will have them on the counter, and there’s been reports of these being stolen with great ease, so putting them out of the way makes sense.
Mandatory age verification is an absolute must, and shops who are not checking Age ID’s need to be punished if they then sell a device to someone under the age of 18. The current punishment policies are not enough and shops show disregard and no care to the rules due to the lack of consequences that follow, so something being put in place such as a mandatory clause and harsher punishment’s probably wouldn’t be a bad thing.
It’s good to read these recommendations by ASH, and like I say there are considerably more listed but I just wanted to highlight three of them that stood out to me. I think making small changes like the ones above could help tackle these problems that are happening head on in the interim of something bigger being introduced regulation wise. ‘
I do strongly believe that the days of Disposables as we know them are numbered and there will be regulations introduced on them before the end of this year without a doubt. They are causing no end of problems for the Vaping industry, and are in turn casting a dark cloud over the head of the vaping industry.