Recently, the news broke that Scotland had started to make steps towards completely banning the sale of Disposable Vapes in their country. They called for an “urgent consultation” to be carried out, looking at the risks involved with Disposable Vapes and how they are impacting the environment, as well as encouraging youths who are underage to begin vaping because of the attractive designs and flavours used in Disposables.
Amid all of this going on, a Live TV debate was held in Scotland where the discussion of how vital flavours of vape juice are to keep current vapers from relapsing and going back to smoking. A member of the UKVIA and a member of Action on Smoking and Health Scotland went head-to-head to discuss this topic and the conversation and debate provided a lot of insights and interesting points made by both parties.
In this article, I’m going to take a look at this debate in detail and give my opinions and views on what was discussed, and whether or not this will have a positive or negative impact on the state of affairs within the vaping industry.
What led to this debate taking place
As I’ve written about in detail in a previous article, Scotland came out with the announcement that an urgent consultation was being called to look into the huge impact that Disposable Vapes are having on the environment and trying to seek out potential management methods of dealing with these devices, with the suggestion of a ban of these devices being put forward.
Zero Waste Scotland have been elected to take the reigns on this review, and they spoke out about the harm that single use disposable vapes are causing to the environment due to the fact they cannot be recycled like normal plastics, due to the fact that they all contain a lithium-ion battery which could cause small explosions and combustions if put under pressure.
Disposable Vapes have been hugely popular amongst adult users, but sadly they are also very popular amongst underage and youth users, with the numbers of underage users hitting previously unseen levels which is creating a great cause for concern.
On the back of this announcement, a Live TV debate discussing the impact of “flavours” being one of the primary reasons for this sudden upsurge in the amount of youths being users of a form of E-Cigarette. The debate itself took place on STV’s flagship current affair show Scotland Tonight and featured Doug Mutter, a Director for the UKVIA going head to head with Sheila Duffy, who is the Chief Executive of ASH Scotland to debate and discuss this in detail. Let’s take a look at how this went.
Sheila Duffy began by saying that her organisation (ASH Scotland) was “alarmed at the upsurge in child vaping” and also went on to say the following:
“The increase in youth vaping is being driven by the popularity of cheap, sweet-flavoured, brightly coloured disposable e-cigarettes and we believe banning flavours would reduce their appeal to youngsters.
“Toxic e-liquids have not been safety tested for inhaling and Scotland should not let big business make big money by targeting addictive, harmful products at our younger people.”
And with this, she urged that the Scottish Government to take action to protect the health of young people.
Now, I do agree that Disposables have definitely massively contributed to the upsurge in youth vaping, and some of the designs on the packaging on certain brands of Disposable definitely does make them more appealing to young people, and to an extent, the flavours do also play a part in way, as who wouldn’t want to be having a blue raspberry bubble-gum flavour?!
Doug Mutter, who is also Manufacturing & Compliance Director at VPZ, fired back by saying that flavours played a massive part in preventing adults, who have made the switch from smoking cigarettes to vaping, from regressing back to smoking cigarettes. He goes on to say;
“This highlights the need to properly control and restrict the sales to proper age-restricted retail premises so as to ensure that these products are getting into the hands of the adult smokers and kept well away from children.
“I cannot state strongly enough that vaping products are designed for adult smokers and the message is simple – if you do not smoke then do not vape.”
Doug Mutter continues by rejecting the allegations that vape products which complied with UK regulations had not undergone safety tests for inhaling the e-liquid vapour with the suggestion being made to Sheila Duffy that perhaps she should “familiarise herself with ‘real world evidence’ and product testing requirements”
“There is a full list, publicly available, of all approved products on the UK market which have undergone testing for toxicological and emission levels, all of which have been deemed acceptable for inhalation.”
“The big problem we have is from the illegal, imported disposable products that totally flout all the rules. Vape sales must be thoroughly restricted, licensed and controlled and there need to be severe penalties for those who don’t stick to the rules.”
What Doug Mutter is referring to in that last quote is the sheer volume of illicit and illegal Disposable Vapes which are entering the UK and being openly sold in shops to unsuspecting customers. These devices do not abide by the TPD regulations, and they normally have way over the legal limit of vape juice inside (5ml+ when the restriction is 2ml) or the nicotine content is over double the legal limit (50mg) or in some circumstances…both of these things!
There’s been countless amounts of news articles that have documented how many of these illicit Disposables are being seized from shops up and down the country, with the head honcho of the UKVIA John Dunne taking an active role in assisting local trading standards agencies with these raids. I’ve also written separate articles about these crackdowns taking place which you can read at your leisure by clicking the links!
Flavours are not at fault
The debate itself pretty much wrapped up at this point, with Doug Mutter summarising that the common misconception of flavoured vaping products are purposefully designed to appeal to children, and highlighted the fact that flavours do actually play a massive part in adult life and they are consistently used in everything from food flavourings, sweets, desserts, and alcohol.
I wholeheartedly agree with what Doug Mutter says above, that there always has been and probably always will be a common misconception that flavoured vaping products are purposefully designed to appeal to children, and it does come as a huge frustration to myself as someone who works in the vaping industry that these misconceptions get flung around regularly.
However, there has been some cases in the past where it’s one of those banging your head against a brick wall moments when you see what some manufacturers of vape juice have created, as what they created and pumped onto the market really does add fuel to the fire for anti vaping campaigners.
I wrote an article about irresponsible made vaping related products should not even make it to market as it harms the industry more with the release of vape juices that are quite blatantly created to replicate popular brands of confectionary or drinks that in turn are actually popular amongst children.
But of late, these brands have been few and far between, and luckily none of them really stood the test of time and they soon left the market as quick as they entered it, but not without leaving a smear on the vaping industry’s reputation thanks to the mindless creation and marketing of these products.
All of this aside, it’s just unfair in my opinion for flavours to be type casted as the reason for the youth vaping numbers being on the rise, and completely banning them to counteract this just seems mindless and effectively a penalisation to adults who rely on flavours to keep them abstaining from smoking cigarettes.
Flavour bans cause more hinderance than help
In the last 12/18 months, there has been action taken in different countries around the world, as well as specific states in the USA which lead to flavoured vape juice being banned from sale. The reasons given my nearly all of them is that it was done to protect the youth of the country from picking up a vape and using these “addictive flavours” to create an unnecessary addiction to Nicotine.
But, as stats show, flavour bans don’t really have the desired affect and end up causing a hinderance to the people that really need flavoured vape juice who are adults of legal smoking/vaping age within their home country. Some States in the USA have banned the sale of flavoured vape juice within the state, and this is forcing adult users to travel to neighbouring states and buy their flavours they rely on, thus finding a loophole/flaw in the system.
In Australia, vape juice with nicotine is not allowed to be sold without a valid prescription, and only obtainable from pharmacies, and this process has not worked and even been declared a failure by their governing body who helped organise and bring these regulations in. And this is causing black market sales of Disposable Vapes to sky rocket as people are desperate to get their hands on nicotine vape juice to keep them from going back to smoking.
Studies have shown that one of the primary reasons that people have opted to start vaping instead of smoking, or continue to vape is down to the flavours of the vape juice being a much more satisfying taste than that of standard tobacco. And when questioned on their thoughts of a flavour ban potentially being implemented, they all have near enough the same response that if they cannot get the flavours they rely on, then chances are they will revert back to smoking cigarettes.
And this is how a waterfall effect is then created, as there will be a vast majority of vapers quitting vaping simply because they cannot get what they need, going back to smoking cigarettes, and then this could then impact the costs of health care for smokers going up, as well as the mortality rate increasing due to more smoking related deaths.
To conclude, I’m firmly onside with Doug Mutter and the UKVIA by agreeing that a flavour ban would not be the appropriate thing to do to combat this apparent “youth vaping problem” that seems to be occurring.
I am onside with Disposable Vapes having some sort of regulation being bought in on them to sort out the massive impact they are having on the environment, as the sheer amount of them entering landfill every month is getting to scarily large amounts, and it’s only going to continue with the popularity of them remaining high.
Some regulations on them being introduced wouldn’t be a bad thing, I’ve always been on the side of dulling the packaging of them right down, dropping the colours, and bright packaging and also maybe dulling down the flavours slightly as well. Limiting the options of flavours to say 5, rather than 50 could see a positive impact, and opting for just plain flavours like tobacco, menthol or stand alone fruits such as Blueberry or Cherry is a much better option that “blue raspberry bubblegum slushie”
I’ll be keeping an eye on the progress of this and as always, will update you in future blogs with any progress!