Earlier this year, the government proposed the idea of banning disposable vapes; this week Prime Minister Rishi Sunak posed an anti smoking plan, which would ban cigarettes being sold to anyone born after 2009.
The ideas around banning different types of smoking have proved controversial and Paul Hitchen, who runs a Salford vape store believes that it would be ‘impossible to ban’ smoking completely, as it would cost the Government too much and other unsafe options would still be available.
“The black market sells a large percentage of disposable vapes: in corner shops, and under the counter stores. They don’t care who they are selling to and what they are selling,’ he told me and added that ‘as long as they are making money, vapes are being sold.“
It is this very issue that the Government has acknowledged, wanting to ‘ban’ disposable vapes. In the summer, vapes of more than 600 puffs were banned, but are still in circulation, through the black market, today. To further this, Greater Manchester Police seized more than 95,000 illegal vapes in the first week of September, over two days.
The Vape Vault, where Hitchen works, is a legitimate vape store, which sells products approved in the UK. From speaking to him we learned that it would be better for the Government to control the distribution of disposable vapes, where safe and legal options are still allowed, for those of age.
One mother informed us that she is concerned about her own children being able to buy vapes themselves. Although she use a refillable device herself, it is still something which worries her about the distribution of ‘uncontrolled’ vapes and how appealing they have become. Speaking to Paul Hitchen, he backed this up with emphasising the importance of product control.
Gov.co.uk published a report acknowledging underage sales at the end of 2020, suggesting that the regulations are still being broken.
“Violations of the age of sale law for nicotine-containing vaping products (and for cigarettes) and the use of social media to promote vaping products are being reported. The Advertising Standards Authority recently upheld some complaints where the marketing of vaping products had violated the UK Advertising Code.”
Hitchen uses both disposable and re-useable vapes and said that there hasn’t been any significant change in his store to customers converting to re-useable vapes since the announcement of potential changes or bans, even though they’re better for the environment and cheaper to use. Re-useable vapes are something he ‘pushes’ and many of his customers move towards anyway, but for those new to vaping or who are trying to stop smoking, sometimes disposables are ‘a more affordable first option’.
“I use both, because a disposable is great for throwing in your pocket and going to the pub, but to use consistently in the long run it is going to be very expensive.”
Hitchen wasn’t alone, however. The community of Salford have a similar view on why they use disposable vapes, instead of the cheaper refillable.
“I just can’t be bothered to keep refilling a device and having to replace coils” one user told me, whilst another said that it the convenience of being able to grab and dispose of vapes when they want them.
The Government are said to be ‘looking into’ the ban to reduce nicotine addictions and protect the health of young people.