The Government has announced plans to ban disposable vapes but the owner of one Manchester vape shop believes the ban doesn’t go far enough.
The move is part of a plan to tackle the rising number of young people taking up vaping as well as environmental concerns.
A recent survey by the NASUWT teachers’ union found that over half of teachers have experienced pupils repeatedly leaving lessons to vape, whilst over a third say the effect of nicotine is affecting their concentration.
Edward Lowe, 41, has owned and operated Parlour Vapes on Chester Road in Manchester for seven years. He supports the plans to ban the sale of disposable vapes after hearing ‘frightening’ reports about their use in school. He says disposable vapes “could ruin the whole business because people blanket disposables as the whole industry”.
Parlour Vapes refuses to sell to under 18s and turns away around 5-6 children a week who are attempting to buy a disposable vape. In comparison, only around one child a month attempts to buy a standard e-cigarette.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “Children shouldn’t be vaping, we don’t want them to get addicted, we still don’t understand the full long-term health impacts”.
Vape shops have become a feature of UK high streets with over 3500 dedicated vape stores now operating across the country, a figure which doesn’t include corner shops, Post Offices, newsagents and other stores which stock the products. Several leading vape wholesalers operate from warehouses in Greater Manchester.
Whilst Lowe objects to disposable vapes, he feels obliged to sell them due to customer demand and competition from other stores. He attributes the rise in vaping amongst children to be mostly “a fashion thing” with children being attracted the convenience, fun packaging and flavouring of disposable vapes.
He has seen children in school uniform leaving shops with disposable vapes and fears some stores are selling unlicensed products.
According to the NHS vaping is substantially less harmful than smoking, but its long-term impact on health remains to be seen. The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) claims vapes have helped millions of adults to quit cigarettes.
As a former cigarette smoker, Lowe knows first-hand how effective vapes can be. “I’ve built my business on the knowledge that I have in helping people quit smoking and not just going “here’s a blackcurrant apple flavour, see you later”.”
The vaping industry group UKVIA has expressed concerns that an outright ban on disposable vapes risks “turbocharging the black market”. Lowe agrees that the ban is likely to “slow the disposables down” rather than eliminate them. He thinks that efforts need to be made to clamp down on illegal vape sales in combination with any ban.
He believes vaping should be “treated the same as alcohol” proposing that staff be trained on regulations and specifics such as nicotine content before being able to sell vapes.
He said: “Every vape premise should have a nicotine license in the same way you need alcohol licensing to sell alcohol”.
Lowe has diversified his business by operating a coffee shop and selling motorcycle accessories, clothing and memorabilia as he waits for the new rules to kick in.
He said: “I can’t wait for disposables to go and then I can go back to what I have done for the last 5 years.”