By now you have probably heard that the government has outlined their intention to ban the sale of all disposable vapes as well as other restrictions on flavours and packaging. The announcement came following a lengthy consultation period.
The government has previously and still does acknowledge that vaping is an essential tool in helping people to move away from traditional cigarettes and most of the latest studies cite vaping as an extremely successful nicotine replacement therapy.
There is now evidence though, that disposable vapes and the marketing used to promote them has resulted in a rapid rise in vaping amongst children and younger people.
Below we explore the implications of the disposable ban and alternative solutions if you are looking to move away from the disposables.
Disposable Vapes and Their Rise In Popularity
Disposable vapes are single use products normally providing a certain amount of buffs per device. They replicate the smoking sensation and are easy to use with no setup and no prior vaping knowledge required. They come prefilled with flavoured liquids and nicotine.
The lack of a rechargeable battery is another aspect that makes them a disposable device. Activation is simple: unwrap, place in the mouth and you are away. Disposable vapes have become famous for their intense sweet flavours like candy and soda and this is another reason that they have been blamed for the rise in popularity amongst children and younger adults.
The Reasoning Behind The Ban
The main reasons for the ban has been attributed to the figures around youth vaping. The number of young people and children vaping has drastically increased in the last few years; this is in direct correlation with the increase in new sweet flavours and accessibility to the disposable vapes.
Figures from ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) show that there has been a nearly two-fold rise in vaping among children in the past two years, with 69% of 11-17 year olds who vape saying that they use disposable devices.
‘ASH was first to raise the alarm about disposable vapes fuelling a growth in underage vaping, after survey data in 2022 showed an uptick in underage vaping with disposables the majority choice. This trend has continued and in 2023 and 69% of underage vapers said they use disposable vapes. (1)
Disposable vapes are widely available for pocket money prices, attractive and easy to use, and environmentally damaging and tough action is needed. However, there are significant challenges to making a ban work, and there need to be exemptions for use by healthcare professionals with vulnerable smokers’. (2)
The environmental impact has also been highlighted by the government during recent press interviews. Up to 5 million disposable vapes are thrown away on a weekly basis. Disposable devices can actually be recycled but only 17% of vapers recycle when possible.
When Will The Ban Come Into Force In The UK?
At present there is no set date, although the Conservatives have outlined their plans for the ban. This bill still needs to be passed through parliament. There is also the impending election which may result in a new party being in power, although all three main parties support this ban, so a change in government is unlikely to affect it being passed through parliament. There has been a suggestion that the law will be passed towards the end of 2024 and if successful will come into force in early 2025.
When there is a new law passed there is normally a grace period for retailers and users of 6 months. There is nothing to suggest that the disposable vape ban will be different, thus this means that disposable vapes will no longer be available from around the middle of 2025.
Some countries have already banned certain flavours and the ban here is also going to include flavour bans, as the sweet flavours are seen as a main reason for the sharp increase in disposable rise in popularity amongst young people.
Sweet flavours, such as dessert flavoured liquids and candy flavoured eliquids are likely to be banned leaving only limited options for vapers. There is an argument, from the vaping industry, that banning certain flavours would have a detrimental effect on the drive to move people from smoking traditional cigarettes to vape devices and increase black market activity as people explore other non-traditional avenues to continue using their favourite sweet liquids.
The government has also proposed a ban on colourful branding and enticing pictures on packaging similar to the rules we see around the traditional cigarette packaging. Retailers may also be required to keep vapes out of sight of children and away from areas of shops where younger shoppers may frequent such as sweet aisles and toy aisles.
Alternatives To Disposable Vapes
Disposable vapes are just one of the options available to vapers. There is a wide array of options extremely similar to disposable vapes already on the market.
Prefilled Pod Kits
This device is slightly different from a disposable one with a rechargeable battery and pre-filled pod kits that can be switched in and out. Many of the large vape brands have options available making the switch from disposable products to a reusable product really easy.
Refillable Pod Kits
The refillable pod kit is the most cost effective way to vape. Kits generally cost less than £20.00 and refillable liquid is also low cost. The kits do use pods or coils which will need to be replaced after a certain period. You do have to refill the pods and replace the coils which does require some time but the modern devices make the process extremely easy and long term environmental benefits far out way the time required to maintain the kit. The benefits of refillable kits are highlighted below.
- Minimal setup.
- 35% cheaper than disposable vapes.
- More flavour options.
- Can reduce nicotine strength.
Disposable Vape Ban And The Economic Implications
The UK vaping industry is worth £1.2bn with disposable vapes making up £973 million of all vape sales. A ban on disposable vapes will lead to losses across the whole industry. This will result in a reduction in tax revenue and the potential for job losses across the industry.
Disposable vapes have formed a large part of the proposition to propel smokers to make the switch from traditional smoking to vaping. According to a recent report by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), encouraging smokers to move to vaping would prove a positive step towards reducing the economic burden of smoking, whereas a ban could only do the opposite.
A ban would only address the sale of legal disposable vapes and not address the black market that is already rampant. Reducing the ease of vaping could potentially also result in people continuing to smoke traditional cigarettes or returning to cigarettes.
The Industry and Their Role
The UKVIA (UK Vaping Industry Association) have recently sent a letter to the Prime Minister in response to the proposed ban. The letter does acknowledge the need to prevent youth access to vaping products but also highlights the potential for increased smoking rates.
‘This decision will not only lead to increased smoking rates but also result in the loss of lives and jobs. Recent research from University College London highlights the potential negative impact of such a ban, discouraging the use of vaping as a smoking cessation tool and triggering relapses among former and current smokers. A ban on disposable vapes will also have significant repercussions on the NHS, which currently expends £2.4 billion per year to treat smoking-related conditions. The UKVIA has consistently advocated for balanced measures, including restrictions on child-appealing flavour names and descriptors.’ (3)
They have also highlighted the need to be careful when restricting flavours.
‘Flavours play a key role in encouraging smokers to try vaping, and according to a recent survey conducted by One Poll, as many as 1.5 million vapers fear they would return to smoking if flavours were banned and 83 percent of vapers claim that flavours have helped them ‘pack in their smoking habit’. (4)
What Can You Do About The Proposed Ban
The proposed ban is due to be discussed in parliament later this year. We encourage every vaper who is concerned about this bill to reach out to their local MP. Remember, the disposable product is not the only thing that is being discussed, with flavour bans also being mentioned. Flavour bans would have ramifications across the whole industry with all vapers being affected.
You will struggle to find someone who disagrees that more control over disposable vapes is required, although concerns about a ‘gateway effect’ from vaping to smoking may have been blown out of proportion. Traditional cigarette use has virtually disappeared among school children. The proportion of regular smokers aged between 11 and 15 has dropped from 4% to just 1% since 2012. You can therefore make a reasonable assumption that the teenagers who are now vaping may have been smoking. As a website we agree with others in the industry, the language currently being used and the proposals put forward by the government are causing some concern.
The government needs to put a plan in place to tackle the large number of black market vapes, some retailers are freely importing disposable vapes and some of these clearly fall outside of the TPD regulations. The law is already in place to make it illegal to sell vapes of any kind to under aged users, yet somehow we are still seeing an increase in younger vapers. We urge the government to crack down on the traders selling vaping products to underage users.
Vaping definitely has a place moving forward as we look to move all smokers away from traditional cigarettes. The wide variety of products already on the market can easily fill the void that may be left by the ban on disposables. It has always been a target of ours to help people move from disposable vapes to refillable kits due to the environmental benefits and the cost savings, now more so than ever, with the impending ban, we encourage people to make the move.
1)ASH response to government announcement on smoking and vaping
2)ASH response to government announcement on smoking and vaping
3)Letter to Prime Minister From UKVIA(Ukvia.co.uk)
4)Letter to Prime Minister From UKVIA(Ukvia.co.uk)