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Urgent Call for Ban on Disposable Vapes

The rising environmental damage caused by disposable vapes and the alarming increase in young people using these addictive products have prompted councils to join forces with paediatricians in calling for a ban. The Local Government Association (LGA), representing councils in England and Wales, emphasizes the need for urgent action to safeguard taxpayers' money, protect the environment, and ensure children's safety. This article explores the reasons behind the call for a ban, the growing popularity of disposable vapes among young individuals, and the potential consequences if action is not taken promptly.

The Environmental and Financial Costs

Disposable e-cigarettes, such as those offered by Elf Bar and Lost Mary, have witnessed a significant surge in popularity in recent years. Shockingly, the proportion of 11- to 18-year-olds who vape (7.6%) has surpassed the percentage of smokers (3.6%) since 2021, according to a survey conducted by Action on Smoking and Health. Alarmed by this trend, councils express particular concern regarding the marketing strategies employed by vape brands, which often utilize enticing designs, flavors, and colorful packaging that could appeal to children. Councils demand a ban on these products by 2024 and immediate measures to regulate their display and marketing, akin to tobacco.

David Fothergill, chair of the LGA's community wellbeing board, criticizes disposable vapes, asserting that they are "fundamentally flawed in their design" and "inherently unsustainable." He highlights the adverse consequences these products have on the environment, streets littered with discarded vapes, hazards posed to waste management vehicles, and the challenges faced by recycling centers in dealing with these single-use items. Moreover, the attractive colors, flavors, and advertisements associated with disposable vapes make them all the more appealing to children. Fothergill argues that the penalties for retailers selling these products do not go far enough in deterring their availability.

Research conducted by Material Focus, a non-profit organization running the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, reveals that approximately 1.3 million single-use vapes are discarded each week in the UK. Alarmingly, more than 700 fires in waste management vehicles and recycling centers are caused by batteries that have been improperly disposed of as general waste. The LGA warns that lithium batteries, when crushed, can experience a sharp increase in temperature and become flammable. The resulting fire damage to equipment and the specialized treatment required for hazardous waste pose financial burdens on taxpayers.

The Urgency for Action

While the UK government has already taken steps to combat single-use plastic, it is imperative to address the issues surrounding disposable vapes. The European Union is proposing a ban on these products starting in 2026, and France intends to implement a ban even sooner, in December. However, concerns have been raised that such bans may lead to an influx of disposable vapes into the UK market.

Councils and paediatricians also express worry over the growing prevalence of illegal disposable vapes, which are particularly popular among young individuals due to less stringent ID checks in certain retail outlets. Recent investigations by The Guardian revealed that trading standards authorities have seized millions of illicit and potentially harmful vapes in the past three years. Experts believe that this is merely the tip of the iceberg, as a "tsunami" of illicit products inundates the market.

These illicit e-cigarettes do not comply with UK regulations, potentially featuring higher nicotine concentration levels, banned ingredients, or oversized tanks for nicotine liquid. Previous analyses have detected illicit vapes containing alarming levels of lead, nickel, and chromium, posing significant health risks to users.

Educational and Regulatory Measures

Headteachers have voiced their concerns regarding the growing numbers of young people vaping and are calling for comprehensive inclusion of vaping-related health risks in the curriculum. Sarah Hannafin, the head of policy at the National Association of Head Teachers, expresses worries about the accessibility of vapes to pupils, as well as the ease with which they can be concealed. Hannafin emphasizes the importance of incorporating information about the health risks of vaping into the relationships, sex, and health education (RSHE) curriculum. She urges both the government and retailers to take more substantial measures to prevent individuals under 18 from obtaining these products, whether they are buying them directly or persuading adults to make the purchase on their behalf.


The joint efforts of councils and paediatricians in advocating for a ban on disposable vapes highlight the urgent need to address the environmental damage caused by these products and the escalating number of young people succumbing to their addictive nature. Single-use e-cigarettes not only pose a threat to the planet but also burden taxpayers financially due to the challenges involved in recycling them. The marketing tactics employed, with their appealing designs, flavors, and packaging, make disposable vapes enticing to children. In light of the risks, councils emphasize the importance of prompt action, including a ban on disposable vapes and regulatory measures akin to those applied to tobacco products. The surge in illegal disposable vapes further compounds the issue, requiring robust efforts to ensure compliance with regulations and protect consumers from potentially harmful substances.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

  1. Q: What is the reason behind the call for a ban on disposable vapes? A: The call for a ban stems from concerns about the environmental damage caused by disposable vapes and the increasing number of young people using these addictive products.

  2. Q: Which organizations are advocating for the ban on disposable vapes? A: Councils, represented by the Local Government Association (LGA), are joining forces with paediatricians to call for the ban.

  3. Q: What are the environmental consequences of disposable vapes? A: Disposable vapes contribute to litter on the streets, pose hazards in waste management vehicles, and are challenging to recycle, imposing financial burdens on taxpayers.

  4. Q: Why are councils concerned about the marketing of disposable vapes? A: Councils are particularly concerned about the marketing tactics employed by vape brands, which often target children with appealing designs, flavors, and packaging.

  5. Q: What risks are associated with illegal disposable vapes? A: Illegal disposable vapes may have higher nicotine levels, contain banned ingredients, or feature oversized tanks for nicotine liquid. Previous analyses have detected harmful substances such as lead, nickel, and chromium in illicit vapes.

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