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Scientist Objects To Ban

The reported single-use vape ban “would be a huge public health step backwards”, according to a warning from a leading vaping industry scientist

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The reported single-use vape ban “would be a huge public health step backwards”, according to a warning from a leading vaping industry scientist. Last week’s reports suggest disposable vapes could be banned in the UK as part of an imminent government consultation focussed on addressing concerns over the environment and youth access. Ministers failed to rule out the ban when questioned.

Dr Marina Murphy’s points:

  • Measures are needed to prevent youth use, but a ban on single-use vapes is ‘not the answer’
  • Removing convenient and affordable disposables could turn existing vapers back to cigarettes and make it harder for smokers to make the switch
  • Single-use vapes are proven to be highly recyclable but more needs to be done to educate consumers on how to dispose of them correctly
  • A major black market for single use vapes could follow a ban based on experiences in other countries
  • Such a move could hit investment in the UK vaping market and impact adversely on the economy

Prominent industry scientist Dr Marina Murphy warned that, while well-intentioned, a move to banning disposable vapes would be a “policy miscalculation” that, if implemented, will do more harm than good.

In the wake of stories from major UK news outlets including the Daily Telegraph and The Guardian – which said ministers are reportedly poised to outlaw single-use devices – Dr Murphy said: “Disposables have become hugely popular amongst adult smokers who are looking to move away from combustible tobacco, with their convenience and accessibility meaning there is near enough no learning curve for new users.

“These products are especially favourable among low-income smokers, who benefit from their affordability.”

The Senior Director of Scientific and Medical Affairs for ANDS – a trademark owner and distributor of alternative nicotine delivery systems which, this year, successfully entered the UK market and launched the highly recyclable SLIX disposable, sold by the likes of Morrisons – also addressed arguments that a ban on single-use vapes would be inconsequential as there are other, reusable alternatives available to users.

She said: “By removing the simplest option, you may well drive existing vapers back to combustible tobacco and risk turning current smokers away from making the switch to e-cigarettes – which the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities says pose a ‘fraction of the risk of smoking’.”

Commenting on environmental concerns, Dr Murphy pointed to a new Waste Experts study which found single-use vapes are actually highly recyclable and can achieve recycling and recovery targets to meet the WEEE Directive.

However, the report – which was recently unveiled in the Houses of Parliament - identified that many consumers ‘don’t try to recycle these products because they do not know they should or have easy access to a recycling option’.

Dr Murphy said: “Addressing the problem of youth vaping and the environmental impact of single-use vapes is critical, but banning the entire disposable category is not the answer.

“While we share the concerns of the British government towards youth vaping, and we do support a joint effort between the government and industry players to find solutions to such challenges, we do believe that banning these products will deprive adult smokers of a viable alternative to continuing to smoke combustible cigarettes.

“We shouldn’t have to choose between protecting the planet and providing smokers with a convenient, easy-to-use and potentially less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco – which claims 220 lives every day in the UK alone.”

Mohammad Agrabawi, ANDS Senior Director of Corporate Affairs, reaffirmed the company’s support of movement by the British government to curbing down youth vaping, but said this should be achieved through greater enforcement and penalties against the rouge retailers and traders who sell these products to under18s.

He said: “Britain’s approach of proportionate regulation in the vaping sector has attracted significant investment from within the country and outside, arguably making the industry the economic success story of the last decade.

“Research conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research found the UK vape sector had an aggregate turnover of £2.8bn and supported almost 18,000 full-time equivalent jobs across ‘retail, manufacturing and the supply chain’ in 2021 – since then, the UK adult vaping population has grown by almost 30%.

“We have always been supportive of the British government’s historically balanced and pragmatic approach towards tobacco harm reduction – which has set a leading example for other countries- and urge ministers to continue down this evidence-based path instead of opting for a ban.”

He also said a ban on any nicotine delivery solution would fuel a dangerous black market – as has been seen in Australia, which has some of the most restrictive vape policies in the world.

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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