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LGA In Fantasy Land

The Local Government Association celebrated the announcement that the Government looks set to ban disposable vapes from its lofty perch in fantasy land

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The Local Government Association (LGA) celebrated yesterday’s announcement that the Government looks set to ban disposable vapes from its lofty perch in fantasy land. It attempted to combat objections to an outright ban on the sale of single-use ecigs in England with a FAQ on its website.

Yesterday, Tuesday 12 September, we announced how the Government looks increasingly likely to take the ill-informed, populist driven route of banning disposable vapes from sale in England.

The arguments in favour of the ban are the typical hogwash we’ve heard for years, coordinated and promoted by Billionaire Michael Bloomberg’s PR operation. With some already voicing their disquiet about such a move, the LGA was swift to upload a list of what it sees as arguments to debunk to objections.

The LGA released a statement in July saying “it is crucial that that ban comes into effect rapidly”. It listed the following reasons:

  • Disposable vapes are a hazard for waste and litter collection
  • Disposable vapes cause fires
  • The impact disposable vapes have upon children and young people

Somehow it bends itself in knots to claim “councils are not anti-vapes”.

The LGA points to other countries which have already implemented bans and ones which have scheduled bans in the future. The position defies all logic – arguing that England should have a ban because other countries do is akin to a child saying they did something ‘because Gary did it’ – no matter how stupid *Gary had been.

*Apologies to any reader identifying as a Gary.

The problem is that the points the LGA raises about disposables being thrown away and not recycled is a very legitimate one. The industry has failed to heed warning from consumers, environmentalists and other concerned parties ever since the single-use products entered the market.

It says:

  • 5 million single use vapes are thrown away every week
  • Up to 21 million per month
  • 260 million per year
  • 17 per cent of vapers recycle their vapes in the correct recycling bins
  • 73 per cent discard them in the trash
  • 1 per cent dispose of them by flushing them down the toilet
  • Enough wasted lithium to provide batteries for 5000 electric cars

The pollution of the environment, the fires in rubbish trucks and waste processing centres is inexcusable – and was completely avoidable – but almost all manufacturers failed to adopt sustainable practices while most retailers and distribution chains failed to offer take-back recycling schemes.

The LGA correctly says: “There is no obligation to provide a takeback service unless the retailer sells over £100,000 of electrical items per year. Vapes can be taken to a collection point for electrical items at a household waste and recycling centre. However, without a vehicle or suitable public transport options, these can be difficult to access, with some requiring appointments to be booked in advance. Residents in more rural areas and remote communities are less likely to have access to takeback schemes and live within proximity of household recycling centres.”

Faced with zero future sales from disposables, people may wonder how the manufacturers are feeling about their recycling intransigence now?

But manufacturers aren’t alone in this, The Environment Agency has failed in its duty to enforce the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations. The LGA points out that, “more than 90% of smaller UK vape and vape juice producers are not registered under [the regulations]”.

An argument against the ban is that it would be more effective to make changes to the minimum price of disposable vapes and alter marketing regulations.

We would be supportive of the introduction of an excise duty on vapes but only if the proceeds were specifically ringfenced for environmental, public health and enforcement purposes,” the LGA says, but admits that this still doesn’t overcome the inherent problems with the components of a single-use device.

But what about a ban feeding into a black market?

The LGA claims that this is mainly a tobacco industry line of defence and that other vape products will continue to exist. The thing is, and research shows this, that disposables work with the heaviest smokers and those least likely to otherwise make a transition to vaping.

As always, smokers rank lowest on the list of concerns held by those with decision making powers. Just as we were witnessing a real change with smokers experiencing poverty, mental health issues or housing problems, the rug looks set to be pulled from under them – and the likes of the LGA simply don’t care.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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