Disposable Vapes To Be Banned In The UK: What You Need to Know
On January 29th, 2024, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a forthcoming ban on disposable vapes in England and Wales, with Scotland and Northern Ireland potentially following suit.
As Prime Minister I have an obligation to do what I think is the right thing for our country in the long term. That is why I am taking bold action to ban disposable vapes - Rishi Sunak
The plans to ban disposable vapes have been made following the responses given during the public consultation on smoking and vaping which opened after the initial announcement in November, which laid out the UK government's plans to prohibit disposable vape kits, as well as potentially restricting flavours and packaging designs due to the rise in young people vaping. Nearly 70 percent of respondents including parents, teachers and healthcare professionals were in favour of the measure.
The move for disposables to be banned in Britain as part of this reform raises numerous questions about its impact on both existing and potential vapers. Let's explore the key concerns and potential outcomes as disposable vapes are set to be banned.
Why Are Disposable Vapes Being Banned In The UK? An Insight into the Rationale
Several factors have been pivotal in the govenrment's decision, including:
Curbing Youth Vaping: Disposable vape bars, with their bright and colourful designs and enticing flavours, have become increasingly popular among teenagers and young adults, with a concerning rise in youth vaping being tracked over the course of the last two years, and the call for a ban on single-use vapes has been made by MPs, Doctors (particularly The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health) and campaign groups alike to redcue the number of children gaining access. The new rules aim to combat this trend, making it harder for children and young people to access these single-use vape products, effectively reducing the number of young people taking up vaping to begin with. Despite being hailed as a useful tool in helping current smokers to quit (a habit that costs the UK economy billions each year) by Action on Smoking and Health (who also carried out the surveys which flagged the number of 15-year-olds now using vapes), the NHS and even the UK Government themselves, the long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the
nicotinewithin them can be highly damaging to developing brains - vaping devices are not intended for those who have never smoked, such as the under-18s in question.
- Environmental Impact: Disposable e-cigarettes, once used, become electronic waste, contributing significantly to environmental pollution. It's estimated that over one million disposable vapes are thrown away every week and dumped into landfill in the UK. According to research carried out by non-profit organisation Material Focus, the latest estimate is that five million disposable vapes each week are discarded. The outright ban seeks to address this issue by eliminating this source of waste and encouraging the use of refillable vape kits that have a lower environmental footprint but still allow consumers to make use of nic salt vape juice.
What Does the Disposable Vape Ban Entail?
The specific details of the new legislation are still being finalised, but what we know is planned to be enacted based on Rishi Sunak's statement is:
- Ban the sale and manufacture of disposable vape bars: This applies to all vape devices that are pre-filled with e-liquid and classified as single use vapes. This is to have an impact on stopping the rise in vaping among children occurring in the UK and prevent the multi million single-use vapes out there from being sent to landfill.
- Restriction of e liquid flavours: The promise of new powers to be introduced which will restrict vape flavours that are specifically targeted to appeal to children. This could mean that only tobacco, mint, menthol or simple fruit flavour vape juice will be available to purchase in future - something raised as potentially damaging to cessation efforts by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA).
- Plain and less visually appealing packaging: A continuation of the above point that the new powers will enforce restrictions on how products are packaged, meaning they will be considerably plainer and less appealing than the brightly coloured packaging currently used by some brands. The UKVIA agreed "that products and packaging should not feature youth appealing imagery and language", however warned that "a move to plain packaging conflates them with cigarettes and further deters adult smokers from making the switch".
- Removing vaping products from plain sight displays: A restriction will also be introduced to how products are displayed in shops, removing them from clear view of children and away from other products which may appeal to children such as sweets or drinks. As well as this, the government said it will put a stop to marketing vapes to children.
- Increased enforcement:The government said they will also bring in new fines for shops in England and Wales which illegally sell vapes to children. Trading standards officers will be empowered to act ‘on the spot’ to tackle the sale of disposable vapes to underage children. This builds on a maximum £2,500 fine that local authorities can already impose.
FAQs: Addressing Your Questions About the Disposable Vapes Ban
We know you will have questions about how all this could impact you; get the answers below:
Q: When will the ban come into effect?
At present, it is unknown when the new laws will be coming into effect. Speculation on the government's plan to implement the ban is that it will take place within the next 12 months, with further restrictions applied within 12-18 months. Stay tuned to our Vape Hub for new blogs that contain updates from the government regarding this.
Q: What happens to my existing disposable vapes?
You will still be able to purchase and use any number of disposable products during this time until disposable vapes are officially banned from sale. After the rules come into effect, you will no longer be able to purchase them in the UK as they will be illegal to sell in shops or online.
Q: Does the ban affect refillable vape kits?
Not directly no. Refillable kits already have restrictions imposed on them under the TPD regulations which were set back in 2016. However, the vape flavour restriction which has been suggested could affect what flavour e-liquids you will be able to buy in future.
Q: Will this ban eliminate vaping completely?
No. Refillable vapes and e-liquid will remain available to be sold, and the government are still supporting e cigarettes as a valuable smoking cessation tool. They intend on achieving their target of England becoming a smoke free country by the year 2030, the ban would be specifically aimed at reducing the number of children vaping and protect children's health.
Q: What are the best alternatives to disposable vapes?
With 10ml e liquids and refillable vape kits falling outside of the proposed restrictions, current disposable users have plenty of great options that will allow them to continue enjoying vaping as an alternative to smoking. Nic salt e liquids that recreate the most popular flavours from disposable bars are available in 10ml bottles, including branded ranges from the likes of Lost Mary, Elf bar, and SKE Crystal. This means consumers can find like-for-like alternatives to their favourite flavours with ease, and often at far better value.
Vapers do not need to adjust to more complex refillable kits to make use of 10ml vape juice either, with simple options like the Aspire R1 replicating the effortless experience offered by single-use kits, in a package with far more longevity and value.
Potential Challenges When The Disposable Vape Ban Happens
Historically, any form of prohibition that has been introduced usually comes with challenges to follow. The main concerns raised by the public and advocacy groups include:
- A rise in black market sales:Australia introduced similar restrictions on the sale of any vape devices or e liquids that contained nicotine in 2021, and enforced the ruling that these could only be obtained with a valid prescription from a GP. This sparked outrage amongst vapers in Australia, and in turn black market sales of illicit disposable bars surged to unprecedented levels. There could be a similar situation in the UK once disposables are banned from sale, with people clambering to get their hands on them through illicit channels.
- Issues with enforcement: Trading standards agencies are currently stretched to their limits, with a lack of people power to be able to enforce the current rules and stopping illicit products being sold to children as well as adults. Without the correct funding and boost in staffing levels, TSAs could struggle to adapt to the new enforcement policies.
- Misprepresentation of harm levels: The suggestion of putting vape products in plain packaging may then cause people to believe that vaping products are equally as harmful as tobacco products, causing fewer people to want to try them. E cigarettes are considered to be safer than smoking by a number of official bodies, but there are many prevalent public misconceptions about vaping products and their potential risks. While vaping is not entirely risk-free, it is widely recognized as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco products. Research has shown that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking and can help smokers transition to a less harmful lifestyle.
The Impact of the Disposable Vape Ban On Adult Smokers Seeking to Quit
Despite their flaws, disposable bars do offer an accessible and convenient route into vaping due to their simple and easy to use design features, with no maintenance required such as refilling with e-liquid or changing vape coils. Plus the cost of a disposable is an initially pocket-friendly one that makes vaping accessible before you commit to buying a more long-term kit.
Banning them could potentially drive people away from wanting to make that change, however, the saving grace here is the fact that refillable vape kits remain unaffected, and are a considerably better alternative to disposable vapes for many different reasons:
- Refillable Vape Kits Are More Cost-Effective Long-Term
Disposable vapes are not refillable, meaning that once you’ve used the 2ml of e liquid that’s prefilled inside the disposable, you cannot refill it and you then have to buy another disposable to be able to continue use.
The cost of a pod/coil is considerably less than the cost of disposable vapes, making it a much more cost-effective way to vape. A kit like the Aspire R1 for example can be bought for £6.99, and refilled at least 9 times using 1-2 bottles of 10ml bar salt vape juice (totalling £2 each if bought from our collection) before being disposed of, running up a mere £11 maximum cost. You would need to buy 9 single-use devices to achieve the same performance, costing a minimum of £30 if purchased in a bundle or even more (circa £45) if bought individually.
- They Are More Sustainable
Alongside cracking down on youth vaping, one of the other key factors behind the government’s decision to ban disposable vapes was to protect the environment from further harm.
Disposable vapes cannot be recycled, despite being made from plastic, because of the small lithium-ion battery that’s inside it. Therefore, they have to be thrown in general waste, which then gets dumped to landfills.
It’s estimated that, due to people being unable to recycle their vapes at least one million used disposable vapes are being dumped in landfills every week in the UK, and this is having a huge impact on our environment.
By using a reusable vape device, you will be acting in a more sustainable way, and not be adding to the millions of used disposables that are residing in landfills across the country. Not to mention our LiQuid vape juice ranges use 100% recycled materials for our 10ml bottles, and our manufacturing site is powered by renewable energy!
- They Allow You To Use A Variety of E Liquids
The e liquid used in disposable vapes is always nic
Depending on what vape kit you decide to use, you can use 50/50 e liquid, nic salt vape juice and even High VG (70/30 ratio) e liquid. This also gives you the flexibility to begin tapering down your strengths of the e-liquid you use as well if you’re wanting to start lowering your
Conclusion: Adapting to Change
The disposable restrictions mark a significant change for the UK vaping landscape. While the full impact on the vaping industry remains to be seen, understanding the rationale and anticipating potential outcomes can help you if you are a current user of disposables, or someone who is considering making the switch from smoking to vaping. Stay informed with any updates by following our latest blogs.