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The Great POTV 2023 Round-up Part 2

The first quarter of 2023 was a blast, right? Well just hold on to your socks because the second quarter of 2023 is set to blow them off your feet and to somewhere inaccessible.

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Oh yes, January to March was a pretty thrilling ride, but wait, it has nothing on the second quarter. April to June on Planet of the Vapes was a period that experts are now calling late spring to early summer. Our coverage literally had people sitting on the edge of their seats. Maybe they should increase the font size on their screens so they can sit more comfortably? Anyway, let’s look at what happened in the world of vape…

Bad Ads

Elfbar is on a mission. Fresh from embarrassing the industry by supplying illegal vapes to major national supermarket chains, it then got publicly rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority for breaching the advertising code on TikTok – for the second (yet not last) time this year.

Elfbar said it, “would improve internal review and monitoring mechanisms to ensure that all online content complied with regulatory requirements.”

Voiceover: It didn’t.

The disposable company wasn’t on its own as “television turned social media minor celebrity” George Baggs also collected an adjudication from the Advertising Standards Authority over his use of TikTok and promotion of vapes.

The advertising regulator also picked up on issues on the Riot Labs website.

While this was taking place, major retail chain VPZ announced that its expansion didn’t appear to be slowing down.

Doug Mutter, Director of VPZ, said: “As the UK’s leading vaping specialist, we are spearheading the fight against the nation’s number one preventable cause of death – smoking.

“Our plans to open twenty new stores reflect our ambition to engage with current smokers throughout the country and help them make their first steps on their quit journey.”


Cancer Research UK delivered a stinging attack on the government’s absolute failure to address cancer, calling for it to develop a coherent strategy.

The strategy will need to address the persistent failure to hit cancer targets – with clear metrics for progress and success, with clarity on who is accountable for delivery and performance, and ideally independent oversight of that performance,” said CRUK.

Clearly, vaping ought to play a key role in such a strategy, instead they chose to announce, “a crackdown on vapes”.

Speaking to the Policy Exchange, then Health Minister Neil O’Brien said he was set to announce “tough new measures” and the launch of a “Call for Evidence”.

Unlike the Spanish Inquisition, the Illicit Vapes Enforcement Squad could be expected by vendors flogging dodgy vapes.

While vaping is a preferable alternative to smoking for adults, we are concerned about the rise in youth vaping, particularly the increasing use of disposable vaping products,” O’Brien warned.

The UK Vaping Industry Association was in favour of clamping down on rogue traders: “We’re especially pleased that the government has taken on board our idea of a test purchasing scheme across the country which will help to keep a much-needed close eye on the sales activities of retailers.

Retailer VPZ joined UKVIA in welcoming the approach.

Director Doug Mutter said: “At the moment we have a challenge in the industry where many imported, unregulated, disposable vaping products are readily available from local convenience stores, supermarkets and several other general retailers with no age verification checks or controls in place.

“The plans announced today by the UK Government are long overdue and a progressive move which will see targeted action on youth vaping and clearly focuses on the irresponsible retailers which are supplying to youths throughout the country.

The Association of Convenience Stores commented: “We are encouraged by Ministers recognising the need to ensure that the vaping market operates properly, which means that only legal product reaches retailers and consumers, and only adults can buy these products. The stronger focus on enforcement, backed by greater resources at a local level, is the right way to achieve this.”

Fadi Maayta, Co-founder and President of ANDS added: “Like the UKVIA, we applaud the introduction of a test purchasing initiative and the Government’s investment to support the future capability of Trading Standards in dealing with underage and illicit sales. But until we’ve cut off the sales ability of those who are just in the industry to make a fast buck and have no qualms about how they are going to go about it, the problem will remain.


Shortly, the media began reporting that flavours were in line for a ban from Health Department leaks.

John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, said: “The research shows there is a reliance on vapes to help smokers quit – and flavours have a role to play. While we are supportive of attempts to eradicate youth smoking, having a ban on flavours could have a negative impact on those who are attempting to quit.

RELX International commented: “A ban on certain flavoured products would only serve to discourage adult smokers from making the switch to a next-generation device, which have been proved both less harmful than smoking and an effective alternative for those looking for an alternative.”

Free handouts

The government went on to announce that it planned to hand out free vapes to smokers. In addition, pregnant women will also be offered financial incentives to help them quit “as part of a sweeping package of measures to cut smoking rates in England”.

Neil O’Brien said: “We will offer a million smokers new help to quit. We will be funding a new national ‘swap to stop’ scheme - the first of its kind in the world. We will work with councils and others to offer a million smokers across England a free vaping starter kit.”

The World Vapers’ Alliance acknowledged the announcement by stating that, “The UK is a smoking-cessation champion and harm reduction leader worldwide. Smoking rates have fallen by more than 29% in the last decade since vaping became widely popular, and the government must double down on embracing vaping.”

The New Nicotine Alliance called the measures “enlightened and proportionate”, adding “we are particularly pleased to see that the government is considering cigarette pack inserts which is a policy we have long championed.

The Independent British Vape Trade Association was likewise impressed with the “swap to stop” scheme.

IBVTA Chief Executive Officer, Gillian Golden, said, “The IBVTA is delighted with news that the UK Government not only recognises vaping as a safe and effective quit method, but that they are also committing to directly support smokers to quit using vapes. I am also sure that IBVTA members will be pivotal in enabling success for all the new schemes to be announced by Health Secretary Neil O’Brien today.

Give with one hand, take away with the other

As impressive as the previous measures were, the government was soon causing concern with a noticeable shift in its priorities. From a planned position, suddenly it was possible to taste a general election and the Prime Minister’s desire to do anything if it was deemed popular.

A Government source spoke about “the use and promotion of cheap, colourful products” as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak spoke about an industry that targets children.

The warning signs were there for all to see.


The industry finally recognised the need to act on the issues of environmental sustainability and recycling. While Planet of the Vapes has been badgering them to act for a long time, it took a government shift to threaten the entire existence of disposable for them to pick up the pace.

The UK Vaping Industry Association developed a 22-point environmental action plan for the sector and published a document titled “Greenprint for Sustainable Vaping”.

Innokin announced the launch of its "Vape For The Planet" campaign, coinciding with Earth Day 2023, seeking “to educate consumers about making environmentally friendly choices”.

Global resource management company Veolia launched a national vape collection service to provide safe disposal and recycling routes for the three million vapes thrown away each week.

Arcus Compliance called on vape businesses to meet their legal obligations as the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates issued a position statement calling for pragmatic, risk-proportionate regulations on disposable vapes, focussing on the regulation of disposable vapes and the recycling requirements.

VPZ teamed up with waste management provider WasteCare to launch a nationwide vape recycling service, and the Morrisons supermarket chain listed the “99% plus recyclable and recoverable” SLIX device.

Marking the substantial shift in industry priorities, The Global Forum on Nicotine announced that it would start with a workshop addressing vape related environmental issues.


The National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training updated its vaping guide for health and social care professionals, covering what vaping is, who does it, why they do it, and how it should be treated with the various client groups the professionals will encounter – important, as we also discovered that these professionals have a poor level of understanding.

Smoore commissioned One Poll to survey adults in order to produce its State of the Vaping Nation report.

Dr. Chenxing Pei, a Senior Aerosol Engineer at SMOORE Centre for Analysis, Testing, and Safety Assessment, said: “There’s a major push to get smokers to move to vape products, but as of now, they just do not have all the information they need to make an informed decision to switch.

“And if vaping is to be viewed as a credible way to quit, urgent efforts need to be made to ensure smokers trust these products to have the desired impact.”

Action on Smoking and Health published the results of its 2023 vaping survey. It found:

  • No significant change between 2022 and 2023 in the proportion of 11-17 year olds currently vaping or smoking
  • However, trying vaping once or twice is up by 50% on last year
  • Disposable (single use) e-cigarettes are the vape of choice for children currently vaping
  • Corner shops are the main source of purchase and child awareness of instore promotion has grown significantly since last year.

A second report from Action on Smoking and Health revealed that £14 billion a year up is going up in smoke according to the economic toll of smoking in England.

The challenge, which has been going on for some time, was demonstrated in a survey conducted by Rutgers University.

The team wrote in their paper: “Overall, this study found that the majority of adults who smoke cigarettes and young adult non-smokers do not think e-cigarettes have fewer harmful chemicals than cigarettes and do not think e-cigarettes are less harmful than cigarettes.

The rest of the world

Australia, a country where there was a de facto ban on vaping anyway, said it planned on banning it even more forcefully.

In New Zealand, Big Pharma was driving an anti-vape rhetoric, forcing CAPHRA to demand the New Zealand Government to follow the United Kingdom's lead in implementing a free vape policy to help reduce smoking rates and save lives in the country.

The International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations announced that it would no longer be receiving funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World, and The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction released a Briefing Paper covering the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the Conference of the Parties (COP).

Finally, for anyone considering spending some time in a country where vaping is banned, this writer took his life in his hands by doing it so you don’t have to. A perilous fortnight was spent in Thailand, cocktails were consumed, spicy food was ordered, vapes hunted out – and no elephants were harmed in the construction of the article.

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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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