Are disposable vapes going to get banned in the UK?
Are disposable vapes going to get banned in the UK is a question we are now being asked daily. And the simple answer is, we don’t know.
We do know that the agenda has changed. The question is no longer ‘are disposable vapes going to be banned’ but more, ‘what are the government going to do to make them less appealing to under 18’s?’
There is a significant difference in those two statements so we thought we would take this opportunity to share our thoughts on the subject and what we think would be the right move for the government to make when considering new laws.
Firstly, we are a vape shop. There’s no hiding from the fact that we sell hundreds of disposables week in, week out. So, it’s easy to think we have an agenda but the truth is, we would welcome a ban.
From a retail perspective, there is no real profit for us in disposables. Normally we wouldn’t talk about money but in this case it’s relevant. It’s because of this uncomfortable fact that there are so many unorthodox sellers out there promoting illegal disposables. Because that’s where the profit is.
So, with that in mind, let’s talk about the real problems here.
1 - There are illegal disposable products on every street corner
2 - They are attracting a younger market
So, is a ban really the answer?
In our humble opinion, we think this would be a disaster for the smoking community.
Very often, the first step on the ‘quit smoking’ ladder is a disposable vape. Consumers will ditch the cigarette for a stick of concentrated flavour and as current evidence suggests, vaping is 95% healthier than smoking so, this has to be a better decision.
If there was to be a ban, it’s likely that we would see a huge rise in smokers again when there has been so much work put in to reduce the numbers.
And the government knows this which is why we think they are taking so long to make a decision about these new laws.
But there is a real problem with disposable vapes. And there’s no getting away from that.
They are attracting younger vapers. We know this because when we do our monthly park cleans, we find loads of them. Let’s face it, no adults are hanging around the local parks vaping (at least we hope not) so it stands to reason that teenagers are getting hold of disposables.
Now, not only is that a problem because they are underage and managing to buy them, but it’s also a problem because they don’t understand what they are getting into.
They are vaping the equivalent of 48 cigarettes in every 600 puff disposable. That’s a whole load of nicotine that their body isn’t developed enough to handle and that’s before we get started on the addiction issues.
This is one problem.
Then, there is the problem of illegal disposables. Hang around us long enough and you will know how much we hate illegal vapes and those who sell them.
We get asked weekly what we’ve got under our counter. (Yes, it’s that blatant). Now, anyone is welcome to come and see what’s under our counter but will be disappointed to find nothing but kitchen roll, tools for vapes, bags and cleaning products. No illegal vapes here!
But, they are in many local shops.
Let’s go back to the fact that each 600 puff disposable has the equivalent of 48 cigarettes in them. Now imagine the volume of nicotine you are getting from a 5000 puff disposable.
And worse, imagine the volume of nicotine a teenager is getting!
Pretty horrific ey?!
And then, there’s the packaging. Even as a vape shop, we can’t deny that the marketing is effective. It’s bright and colourful and it’s easy to see why people think they are targeting the younger market.
The problem gets deeper when you hear of illegal vapes being sold in the form of a highlighter pen. We’re not kidding. These exist (not in our shop, but they’re out there). And it’s obviously a way for teenagers to sneak their disposable vapes in without their parents ever knowing. They literally look like highlighter pens.
So, to wrap up this section, we have three big problems to contend with.
1 - There is a lot of underage selling going on
2 - There is a lot of illegal selling going on
3 - They are marketed in (possibly) too much of an attractive way
So, now we’ve established the problems, what do we think are the solutions?
This is a no brainer for us. And we do not think a ban will be effective.
In fact, we suspect that should a complete ban happen, the black market will explode. Knowing how many illegal vapes are being sold just in our local area, we can only imagine how much that will increase (especially given that the profit margins are so much higher). It’s not a smart move.
However, there are two very simple solutions.
1 - Change the marketing.
Suppliers could easily change the way they package these vapes. They could come in plain white boxes with the flavour simply stated on the front.
2 - Increase the fines
We kid you not, we had a phone call recently from someone asking us if we sold 5000 puff vapes. When we said no, because they are illegal and highly unethical, the caller said ‘I know but loads of shops will do it knowing they’ll be fined but it’s so small and the profit is so big, it’s worth the risk.’
Come on, seriously?
This is another no brainer.
One shop was fined £28 for selling to an underage customer. What is that about? They probably made that back in a couple of vapes. That’s a problem.
If the fines were so big it would risk the business (and it should if you are deliberately selling to underage customers or selling illegal products) then the risk would be too big.
So, there you have it. That’s our take on where the law should go. To be honest, we don’t really understand why the government is taking so long to make this decision. Surely, all it needs is a bit of common sense?
What are your thoughts? Agree with us or think a ban would be the answer? Let us know.