Councils in England and Wales have made a joint appeal to the UK government to impose a ban on the sale of single-use vapes by 2024, as reported by Reuters on July 15. Their call for action is based on two key factors: environmental concerns and potential health risks. The Local Government Association (LGA), representing councils in these regions, underlined the urgency of implementing a ban promptly. With the European Union proposing a ban in 2026 and France planning to roll out a ban by the end of this year, there is a real risk that disposable vapes could flood the UK market as other markets close. Currently, an alarming 1.3 million single-use vapes are discarded weekly, presenting hazards for waste management, litter collection, and even causing fires in waste disposal vehicles. These vapes are specifically designed as a single unit, making it nearly impossible to recycle them without specialized treatment due to the inseparability of the batteries from the plastic components. The LGA also expressed concerns about the impact of vaping on young people.
In response to the councils’ call for a ban, the UK Vaping Industry Association defended the use of disposable vapes. They argued that disposable vapes have been available for a significant period and offer an affordable and accessible option for smokers looking to quit tobacco. The association’s director general, John Dunne, stated that the vaping industry is actively striving to minimize its environmental impact. He further cautioned against implementing a ban, as it could lead to an increase in the availability of illicit vape products in the UK market. Despite this defense, the LGA maintains that disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed in design and environmentally unsustainable, making an outright ban a more effective solution compared to attempting to enhance recycling efforts.