Sunak bans disposable vapes in the name of children's health

UK government announces plans to ban disposable vapes by the year 2025

Beth Davidson
19th February 2024
Image Credit: Flickr_Vaping360
In one of the first new policy announcements of 2024, the government has announced it will seek to ban disposable vapes in the UK, in the name of ‘children’s health’. It is estimated that 9% of 11-15-year-olds vape either occasionally or regularly, although the number is likely to be higher.

The measures announced also include means to reduce the marketing of vapes to children, in particular regarding the placement of them in shops and the bright colours and designs used. This is yet to be specifically discussed, although it seems that the remaining refillable vapes will undergo significant changes, and a public consultation will be held to review how to proceed with these amendments, concerning flavouring and how these will be sold. Fines will also be introduced to those businesses found to be selling refillable vapes to children.

The long-term health effects of vapes are still largely unknown, particularly for young children, which is one of a myriad of reasons why campaigners have been calling for this ban. Another significant argument for this ban is the environmental effects that disposable vapes have – they are acutely wasteful and contain harmful materials, including lithium batteries, which makes them difficult to dispose of safely. Disposable vapes can be recycled, but this is little known and it is estimated that only 17% of users do so.

These measures have received cross-party support, with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asserting his endorsement for the bill. Questions have arisen as to why the government have waited so long to act, as Starmer claims that the Labour Party have been calling for the ban for two years. He states that a new bill is not needed to proceed with the ban, as it can be brought in using existing legislation, which would speed up the process significantly – it would remove the Parliamentary ‘ping-pong’ that takes place between the House of Commons and Lords.

Naturally, there is some opposition to the introduction of this bill. The UK Vaping Industry Association have expressed their objection to the policy, stating that they are ‘dismayed’, referring to the ‘key role’ disposable vapes have played in aiding millions of people quit cigarettes.

Vape companies, including the notorious ‘Elf Bar’ have voiced their support for the government’s wish to reduce the amount of children using their products, but disagree with an ‘outright ban’.

The bill is likely to be passed into law sometime this year, before the General Election, but this ban will not be introduced until 2025, giving businesses time to make the necessary changes. There is hope that this will greatly reduce the number of children who vape, reversing the 4% rise from 2020, although only time will be able to measure the success of these policies.

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