Will the UK Really Decide To Ban Single-Use Vapes?

As a retailer selling vaping products, it may be normal for you to bulk buy disposable vapes from wholesalers before selling them online or in your store. However, there have been predictions that change is on the way.

Earlier this month, there were reports across the media that the government is planning to ban the sale of single-use disposable vapes.

Part of this relates to health concerns, especially surrounding claims they are marketed with colours and flavours designed to appeal to the illegal, underage market. Issues of littering and a lack of recycling of plastic and lithium batteries is another big issue.

Similar concerns have been raised and acted on in other countries. France recently announced a ban on single-use vapes, with Scotland and the Republic of Ireland both consulting on following suit. The general availability of vaping products of any kind is being greatly reduced in Australia.

As yet, no formal announcement has been made by the UK government, pending the publication of a call for evidence on the issue of vaping by young people. But while many are lobbying for a ban, some are not - and those opposed do so on the very same environmental issue that motivates proponents of a ban.

Most notable is the position of Materials Focus, which is concerned with the growing problem of electronic waste, which would include everything from old computer motherboards to single-use vapes. The latter, it noted, has been a fast-growing problem, the number discarded now standing at over five million a week.

However, the organisation does not support a ban. It argues that the solutions lie in the vaping industry providing more and better solutions to help people recycle vapes, the provision of more facilities to do so and the inclusion of information on recycling with the products.

Materials Focus takes the view that to ban disposable vapes would be to drive the sector underground, making it so much harder to ensure the products are safe for users, making the sale to under-18s more clandestine and undermining efforts to encourage recycling.

In the press release highlighting this research, the executive director of Materials Focus Scott Butler warned that unless action was taken to increase recycling, a ban would become more likely.

However, he has also stated that: “If the legitimate industry is banned, then there will be no mechanism to deal with all the operational challenges and costs of illegally sold vapes.”

Ministers may yet find such voices as Mr Butler’s convincing, so a ban is by no means a done deal. In the meantime, some retailers have made their own judgements, with Superdrug announcing that it is to cease the sale of single-use vapes in Britain and Ireland.

This makes the company the first UK retailer to take such a step, although it is possible that others may follow suit. However, with no sign of any announcement of a ban yet, that may make now a very good time to stock up on single-use vapes, as those who currently get them from Superdrug will be looking for an alternative provider.

Even if a ban does come in, it is also worth noting it is unlikely to be immediate, not least as legislation would have to pass through parliament first.