Disposable vapes are set to be banned in the UK as part of plans to reduce the rising number of young people taking up vaping, the UK government has said.
The plans include restrictions on vape flavours which are specifically marketed to children and introducing plain packaging. The UK government also said vaping products must not be displayed in shops where they appeal to children, such as next to sweets or chocolate.
NHS figures showed that 9% of 11- to 15-year-old children used e-cigarettes in 2021, which rises to 18% for 15-year-olds.
Announcing the new measures, Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, said: “As any parent or teacher knows, one of the most worrying trends at the moment is the rise in vaping among children, and so we must act before it becomes endemic.
“The long-term impacts of vaping are unknown and the nicotine within them can be highly addictive, so while vaping can be a useful tool to help smokers quit, marketing vapes to children is not acceptable.”
The measures are part of the government’s response to its consultation on smoking and vaping, which was launched in October last year.
Five million single-use vapes were thrown away every week in 2023, according to research from Material Focus, a four-fold increase from 2022. The potential yearly cost of collecting and recycling these vapes according to Material Focus’ research is £200 million.
This historic announcement will be a powerful tool in support of our efforts to crack down on waste.
Environment Secretary Steve Barclay commented: “Not only are disposable vapes often targeted, unacceptably, at children – they also represent a huge and growing stream of hard-to-recycle waste, with nearly five million thrown away every week.
“This historic announcement will be a powerful tool in support of our efforts to crack down on waste and boost recycling, as well as helping to create the first smoke-free generation.”
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Community Wellbeing Board, said the LGA were “delighted” with the ban on disposable vapes. He described single-use vapes as “inherently unsustainable” products and that an outright ban “remains the most effective solution to this problem”.
However, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) said it was “dismayed” at the government’s decision to ban disposable vapes.
In a statement, the UKVIA said: “While action to prevent youth access to vaping is critical, this move smacks more of a desperate attempt by the government to sacrifice vapers for votes ahead of the upcoming General Election.”
The UKVIA continued that the ban would create a “black market” for disposable vapes and the solution isn’t a ban but “effective and proactive enforcement”, which it said is “woefully lacking”.