The Tories are all set to propose a ban on disposable vapes, despite taking a £350k donation from a huge vaping firm in May
The British public’s love affair with vaping has had its ups and downs. Just shy of a decade ago, ‘vape’ was declared 2014’s word of the year by the Oxford Dictionaries (beating out such cultural behemoths as ‘normcore’ and ‘bae’) and by 2015 Public Health England had confirmed that e-cigarettes were 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco. In 2019 came the first study on the long-term effects of vaping, and – shock horror – things weren’t looking too good. Despite this, by 2022 Brits were still reaching for the devil’s pipe in their millions – 4.3 to be exact.
However, since this boom, the tide has turned against Big Vape, and whoever’s doing Elf’s PR needs a stern talking to. Professor Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer for England, recently came out as anti-Elf bar, referring to the uptick in young people vaping as “an appalling situation”. Now, after last week’s revelation that five million disposable vapes are binned every week in the UK, the Daily Telegraph has today reported that the government is set to completely ban disposable vapes due to their being marketed mostly for children.
According to the right-wing newspaper, the Department of Health and Social Care will issue a consultation next week proposing the ban, having come to the conclusion that the “colourful products” are mainly targeted at those under the age of 18. In an all-too-classic case of Tory hypocrisy, this decision comes mere months after the Conservative party accepted a donation of £350,000 from Supreme 8 Ltd, a leading manufacturer of the same vaping products they wish to ban. Despite the hypocrisy, the prime minister has been doing the anti-vaping rounds all summer, even suggesting “enforcement squads” to clamp down on their use.
The proposed ban also has support from across the aisle too. This morning, Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner – whose children refer to her as the “vape dragon” for her Elf bar addiction – went on Sky News to criticise the government for taking so long to ban e-cigarettes clearly aimed at children.
But despite his anti-Elf stance, Whitty has stressed that an outright ban on disposable vapes is not what is needed, telling MPs in February that “vaping has an important role as a public health tool to help smokers who are addicted”. While something should be done about the amount of under 18s picking up vaping habits, a ban could mean that it’ll be harder to access vapes as a harm-reduction tool. The question is, do we have faith in this government to act with enough nuance that vapes won’t be marketed to kids, but still widely available to those who want to quit smoking?? Probably not!