Disposable Vapes have had a lot of negative media attention surrounding them for the last few months since their sudden rise in popularity. The negative media has spawned from seeing an increase of youths using these devices, with various calls being made to have these devices banned from sale in a bid to stop youths forming Nicotine addictions and dependencies.
Recently, Scotland became the first country in the UK to make an active and forward approach to having Disposable Vapes regulated and potentially prohibited from sale due to not only being appealing to youths using them, but also the massive negative impact they are having on the environment due to them not being able to be recycled.
And as I predicted, England was not far behind in making a similar bid calling for prohibition on them. A Bill for prohibition on Disposable Vapes was read in front of Parliament recently by an MP, looking at the reasonings why they should be banned, and the positive impacts a ban could have on society. I’m going to look at this Bill in full, the reasons behind it and why a ban could be coming on them in England in the not so distant future.
Dr Caroline Johnson puts forward the Bill
On Wednesday the 8th February 2023, Dr Caroline Johnson, a Conservative MP for Sleaford, put forward a bill in the Houses of Parliament under the “Ten Minute Read” ruling, meaning the Bill had to be short and straight to the point and read within a ten minute window given by the Speaker. And Dr Johnson nailed it by the sounds of it as the transcript of what was said is short, sharp, and straight to the point. I’m going to annotate what she says progressively throughout this reading and give my thoughts.
Dr Johnson starts off strong, giving acknowledgement that E-Cigarettes were designed as a quitting tool, similar to other forms of Nicotine Replacement Therapy options, but she did then state the fact that they are becoming more appealing to people who were not previous smokers.
Dr Johnson also references the Office of National Statistics report from 2021 that showed 4 million people are now vaping in the UK and the number has likely increased from that.
Dr Johnson then goes on to say this wouldn’t be so bad if the majority were former 20 a day smokers, which the large majority are not. There is a certain err of negativity with this though in my eyes as it reads like that is a bad thing, which it is far from.
And to me, it doesn’t matter if someone was a 1 a day smoker, or a 20 a day smoker, an ex-smoker that has moved to vaping is still a good thing, regardless the amount they previously smoked.
Youth Vaping statistics used not quite correct?
Dr Johnson continues to talk about the use of E-Cigarettes by youths, and she says
“Most worryingly, an NHS survey published last year found that, among 15-year-old children in the UK, 18%—nearly one in five—considered themselves to be e-cigarette users”
I did some research in to this, as I definitely remember seeing this survey published last year, and the numbers that Dr Johnson reports didn’t sound quite right to me.
I took some time to find the results of this survey that was done that I believe Dr Johnson is referencing back to, and the number of 11–15-year-olds using E-Cigarettes that was reported in this survey was actually 9%, exactly half of the number she has declared in her statement above. The link for this survey is at the bottom of this article.
Whilst that number has risen from 6% from years prior which is not good to see youths vaping in quantities, it’s not the 18% which Dr Johnson has put forward it is, so the numbers being mispresented is not the ideal thing to see.
Dr Johnson continues by saying that E-Cigarettes are “very new” and calls on Members present to recall when Cigarettes were deemed as safe to use. To call E-Cigarettes “very new” is a bit odd, as we are now approaching double digits for how long they have been present in the UK, and already in double digits since the initial launch of devices in the USA.
There has been no long-term research done on them due to this, and I agree they cannot be deemed 100% safer, but it’s really unfair to categorize them with cigarettes being classed as safe, and it’s been proven that they are 95% safer than smoking cigarettes, so the promotion of them being safe is justified, whereas the promotion of cigarettes really was not.
Is Nicotine as bad as it’s made out to be by Dr Johnson?
Dr Johnson moves forward to discuss the recent news story to break about Disposable Vapes which was Elfbars containing over 50% more vape juice than the legal limit (2ml) allowed and them being pulled from sale from major Supermarket retailers in the UK.
She goes on to say;
“Chronic nicotine use is linked with a range of diseases affecting the heart, blood and nervous system, as well as impairing brain development in young people and increasing the risk of anxiety disorders.”
I’ve had a good scout about to look for references to studies that show that Nicotine has these effects on the body, and I’ve come up short. There are plenty of studies out there that deems Nicotine as a good thing, and can actually help people in numerous ways, including improving memory, concentration, focus as well as improving energy levels as well improving a persons mood and mental wellbeing due to the Dopamine released when Nicotine is absorbed into the body.
There hasn’t been any studies that have shown Nicotine usage can cause any form of disease, and it is unfortunately put in the same category as the cancer causing chemicals found in Cigarettes, which I think has happened here.
A call for prohibition to protect young people
A move onto the topic at hand is made here by Dr Johnson, where the subject in hand of prohibiting the sale of Disposable Vapes as a way to protect youths is spoken about. Dr Johnson says that it is crucial for vapes to be promoted to adults to quit smoking, but we must protect young people and children being lured “into a lifetime of addiction” which I don’t quite agree with, as the term “lifetime of addiction” is not necessarily true as people can over come it.
Quitting nicotine and overcoming the addiction and dependency on it is one of the hardest things a person can do, but it is achievable with the right amount of desire to do it as well as willpower, so to call it a “lifetime of addiction” is, in my opinion, a bit strong.
She makes a solid argument that Disposable vapes are indeed appealing to younger children with their flavours and bright colours and packaging, and this is something I whole heartedly agree with and have written about something being done about this, such as dulling down the packaging and flavour options to make them less appealing.
She touches on certain brands flouting the rules and advertising their Vaping products on social media platforms like TikTok which I agree should stop and it has certainly been limited as far as I can see.
The sustainability and environmental impact is bought up
I’ve been wondering when this subject would be raised, and here it is! We all know that Disposable Vapes are not a sustainable way to vape, and they are having a huge impact on the environment due to the fact they cannot be recycled and instead are going into landfill.
And not in small quantities either, it’s reported over 1.3 million used Disposable Vapes are going into landfill EVERY WEEK. And that’s not including the ones that are just discarded on the ground on pathways, at parks, and other public places.
Dr Johnson highlights the problems with Disposable Vapes not being able to be disposed of correctly and the huge volume of Lithium that is going to waste, something that we are in desperate need of apparently, and I do agree with her on this, that this is a huge problem and needs addressing.
Some vaping manufacturers have admitted they are taking steps forward to offering a recycling programme, but this could be a case of too little too late as the horse has bolted it appears.
The conclusion by Dr Johnson
Dr Johnson begins summarising her Bill at this point, and I want to extract some quotes from it as I’ve done all throughout.
“I know that the Government are committed to achieving a smoke-free generation by 2030, but disposable vapes are adding little to reusable ones in this regard. Indeed, their greatest risk is creating a new generation of nicotine addicts. I fear that a new national health crisis is brewing under our noses. Many US states have imposed restrictions on them, followed by China, Japan, Brazil and most recently Australia.”
The first line of that statement is certainly up for debate and discussion, as I’ve covered in several different articles, there has been numerous calls by different pro vaping organisations and others involved that more is needed to be done by the Government for this to become a reality, and when asked previously by other MPs, there’s been lacklustre answers given with not a lot of forthcoming being shown that it’s actually going to happen which is frustrating.
There hasn’t actually been any US states that have imposed restrictions specifically on Disposable Vapes however, a select few have banned flavoured vape juice on the whole, in both Disposable Vapes as well as bottles of it used for vaping device refills.
Australia has banned Nicotine vape juice for sale unless someone has a legit prescription for it, and this system has been admitted to be a failure, and the sales of Disposable Vapes are booming on the black market over there, read my article about by clicking the link!
Brazil has completely banned Vaping since 2009 so Disposable Vapes wasn’t the cause for this, and China & Japan have restrictions on Nicotine vape juice so again, not directly to do with Disposables.
Dr Johnson finishes with the call to ban Disposable Vapes will protect our planet as well as preventing an epidemic of youths forming unnecessary nicotine addiction.
Now we reach my conclusion of this Bill that’s been put forward and I’ll keep it brief as I think I’ve made my thoughts on it quite clear throughout.
I do agree that a potential prohibition on Disposable Vapes is the right thing to do and would be a less harsh restriction than other countries are bringing in such as the banning of any nicotine containing vape juice.
I’ll keep you all updated with the happenings of this, and from what I understand it is not going to be a quick process as there is a second reading booked for late March, and then more processes need to be followed after that.
Decrease in smoking and drug use among school children but increase in vaping, new report shows – NDRS (digital.nhs.uk)
Hospital admissions for respiratory conditions linked to vaping – NHS Digital