Kent Moves to Ban Disposable Vapes by 2024
Council bosses in Kent have taken a decisive step towards banning disposable vapes due to growing environmental and health concerns. Kent County Council’s decision comes in response to a staggering statistic presented by the Local Government Association, which claims that a staggering 1.3 million vapes are discarded every week, urging for a complete ban on these products by 2024.
The Rise of Vapes as a Tobacco Alternative
Vapes have gained immense popularity as an alternative to traditional tobacco products. Smokers have turned to these devices to inhale nicotine-infused vapor instead of smoke. However, critics argue that the marketing of disposable vapes with flashy packaging and sweet fruit flavors has been intentionally designed to attract younger individuals, including children.
The Environmental Impact and Safety Concerns
Green Party member Jenni Hawkins, the driving force behind the proposed ban, highlighted the issue of lithium used in the battery of these single-use items. She insists that proper recycling of lithium should be enforced. Additionally, disposable vapes have been linked to safety concerns, as they are prone to instability and can potentially burst into flames if crushed. Shockingly, over 700 bin lorry fires and recycling center accidents have been attributed to these disposables.
Cllr Hawkins, representing Hythe West, emphasized that discarding vapes is wasteful, considering that the 10 tonnes of lithium discarded from disposable vapes each year could be better utilized for the Net Zero transition, equivalent to the lithium needed for 1,200 electric cars.
The Debate on Blanket Ban and Its Consequences
Cllr Clair Bell, cabinet member for public health, acknowledges that vaping is a relatively new activity and raises concerns about the effectiveness of a blanket ban. Some fear that outlawing disposable vapes might inadvertently push the business underground.
However, Councillor David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, believes that disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed and unsustainable, making an outright ban a more effective solution than trying to increase recycling efforts.
Marketing Concerns and Call for Regulation
The Local Government Association is alarmed by the marketing strategies used for vapes, which seem to target children through appealing designs and flavors like fruity and bubble gum, coupled with colorful and child-friendly packaging. It insists on implementing strict measures to regulate the display and marketing of vaping products in the same manner as tobacco.
Vaping Industry’s Perspective
According to a BBC report, research firm NielsenIQ recorded the sale of 300 million e-cigarettes (both disposable and refillable) in the UK over the past year. The vaping industry contends that instead of banning disposable vapes, the government should enforce fines on retailers who sell these products to underage customers. They believe the revenue generated from these fines should be allocated towards addressing related issues.
The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) argues that regulated single-use vapes are safer than resorting to untested and potentially dangerous black-market products, which might flood the market in the event of a blanket ban. Moreover, the vaping industry points out that focusing solely on disposable vapes overlooks the larger problem of smoking-related litter, which constitutes a staggering 68% of all litter in the UK, costing local authorities £40 million annually for cleanup.
Kent County Council’s Resolution
Following extensive debate, Kent County Council successfully passed a motion to formally request the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs to impose a ban on disposable vapes. The majority of council members supported this decision.