The rise in popularity of Disposable Vapes has been something not short of phenomenal over the last 12 months or so, with record sales figures being recorded for these devices, and them being sold in nearly every shop you go in it seems here in the UK. But it’s not been all positive news regarding these, with them being the main perpetrator of the youth vaping numbers seeing a worrying increase in the same time frame, with the amount of 11-17 year olds admitting they have used these devices more than doubling in the last two years.
There’s been several petitions launched by various different people, ranging from anti-vaping campaigners, all the way to members of Parliament calling for something to be done to stop the numbers of youths using them from continuing to go up.
Action on Smoking and Health recently called for the price of the devices to go up to a higher cost by introducing a “levy tax” on them by the Chancellor in the upcoming budget review. However, news has broken recently which will dishearten the anti vaping campaigners as there is no plans to introduce a tax on any vaping products whatsoever. In this blog, I take a look at this news article and what could be implemented instead to stop the youth vaping numbers going up.
The non stop rise in popularity of Disposable Vapes
Disposable Vapes have actually been around for a lot longer than people realise, just in a different shape and form like what they are known and marketed as today. Pulling the history books out, we go back to the early days of E-Cigarettes and one of the first E-Cigs to be introduced onto the consumer market was called a “Cig-A-Like” and these were designed to looking like a cigarette (I wonder where they got the name from…) and they were a simple take out of the packet and puff kind of device, much like the Disposables used today, expect it was only tobacco or menthol flavours available. None of these super fancy flavour concoctions you see being produced and marketed today!
We’re talking nearly a decade a go that these things were hitting the market and being bought by curious people who wanted to try and see what they were like, having never seen or used them before. And this is where the story kind of goes full circle, as that’s what is happening right now in modern day, people are becoming curious and want to see what all the fuss is about, and they’re dipping their toe in the water and trying out these devices.
Smokers, current vapers, non vapers/never smokers all of them are getting involved. But unfortunately, so is another group demographic which isn’t ideal, and that is youths/underage users who are not of the legal smoking age.
The rise in youth vaping
Action on Smoking and Health investigated into the case of youth vaping in the UK and released a report of their findings in July 2022. This survey was conducted exclusively between 11-17 year olds and they asked questions regarding their knowledge of E-Cigarettes, as well as their usage of them during the course of the year and their attitudes towards E-Cigarettes.
The survey results showed that the number of 11-17 year olds that had tried vaping sat at 15.8% which is a rise from 11.2% from the previous years survey. And the amount of “current vapers” had gone up to 7% compared to 3.8% in 2021. Nearly double the amount year on year of 11-17 year olds who consider themselves as current vapers.
The reasonings for trying an E-Cigarette is somewhat of a cliché response for a group of 11-17 year olds, with “just to give it a try” being the most popular answer from 65.4% of the group surveyed. And 10% of them admitted they are “addicted to them” which is one of the common things bought up by anti vaping campaigners who call for some action to be taken to prevent this.
And finally, the survey asks to which vaping device are the current vapers as well as those who have tried a vape is being used, and it comes as no shock that Disposable Vapes were the most common answer, with a massive 52% total admitting they use them. It might not sound a lot, but this number was only 7% back in 2021, so an increase of over 7 times in the space of a year definitely gives somewhat a cause for concern I think.
A call to action to stop the numbers from rising
I’ve been keeping close tabs on this situation for a while now and have written many blogs in the past about it, but the subject of combatting youth vaping numbers has been at the forefront of nearly all vaping news, and Disposable Vapes are normally at the forefront alongside them as well.
Many different groups and organisations, some of them pretty well known “anti-vaping” groups, have made numerous suggestions on what could be done to combat these youth vaping numbers from increasing, and even recently Caroline Johnson MP put forward a bill in the House of Commons which declared a suggestion to completely BAN the sale of Disposable Vapes in England. This shortly came after the recent declaration from Scotland that an “urgent review” was being done on the subject of Disposable Vapes as they are also facing the same problems as what’s happening here in England.
Action on Smoking and Health recently released a publication offering suggestions on what could be done to combat the youth vaping numbers, offering somewhat “less harsh” suggestions to be implemented on Disposable Vapes rather than them being completely banned like what Dr Johnson and Scotland had initially put forward.
The suggestions were made to dull down the packaging and flavours of Disposable Vapes to be less appealing to younger audiences, as well as restricting the access to them by introducing more rigorous age verification checks, harsher punishments for shops who sell them to underage customers and keeping them behind the counter away from sticky hands who might try a “snatch and grab” shoplift operation.
But their primary suggestion which I actually agreed quite strongly with, was introducing a “levy tax” on Disposable Vapes to make them less affordable than they currently are. The average price of a Disposable Vape is around £5 per device, which to a 16 year old is pocket money really. They made the suggestion of upping the price of Disposables to £9 or just over, almost doubling the current price, as this would make them a lot less affordable to young people.
The suggestion was made in hope that the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt would announce it in his upcoming Budget announcement next week, but news has broken and it’s probably not what many are wanting to hear…
Tax on Vaping NOT to be included in the Budget 2023
News broke this week that a new levy proposed for Vaping will NOT be included in this years budget, with the admittance of it being a “slimmed down” version of what is normally delivered.
The Independent broke the news this week, courtesy of their Treasury sources, that despite calls from officials within the Department of Health for a tax to be introduced on Vaping products, notably Disposable Vapes, there will be no tax being imposed on Vaping whatsoever.
This will likely come as a huge blow to those campaigning and supporting for something like this to be introduced, and it does make me wonder what the next steps will be from the Government as they do continue to say they are looking at the current state of affairs and want to enact something to combat these numbers from increasing any further.
If you’ve read any of my previous blogs, you’ll know where I stand with my views on Disposable Vapes. Something should be implemented to stop this craze from gaining any more traction, and to stop the numbers of youths picking these devices up so easily and trying them.
I was hopeful that the Tax suggestion would be enforced as this seems a sensible thing to do, and I’m not expert and don’t know the ins and outs of it all, but seems a relatively simple and easy solution to impose as a makeshift solution until the bigger solution comes along.
It also makes me question what if there is something bigger coming in the pipeline like what has previously been thrown around such as the total banning of Disposables? I personally think something like this could come in to force eventually, whether it be this year or next, I don’t know how long the whole process takes to reach finalisation stages.
I don’t agree with the banning of flavoured vape juice like what Dr Johnson insinuated in her Bill reading, as this will just cause more of a hinderance than help which I’ve spoken about in a previous article. But I do agree with the potential banning of Disposables so that the vaping industry stops getting dragged through the mud as this is damaging an already frail structure due to all the previous misinformation previously published.