The government could announce a ban on disposable vapes as early as this week, it has been reported, following calls from campaigners to make sales illegal on health and environmental grounds.
Ministers are said to be drawing up plans to ban the products, which are said to be targeted at those under 18.
The Daily Telegraph reported that the decision to ban disposable vapes will be revealed in a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Single-use, disposable vapes are sold in bright colours, and come in sweet and fruity flavours such as pink lemonade, gummy bear and watermelon.
The potential ban comes after a number of leading medical institutions called for action to protect the health of children.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health told Yahoo News UK: "We are concerned about the rise in youth vaping and the environmental impacts of disposable vapes.
“That is why we launched a call for evidence to identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing and using vaping products – and explore where the government can go further. We will set out our response in due course.”
Who wants single use vapes banned?
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health urged the government to address the situation back in June, when it revealed that experimental use of e-cigarettes among 11–17-year-olds had risen 50% in one year.
The RCPCH called for the government to implement an outright ban on disposable e-cigarette products "due to their disproportionate use among children and young people and their detrimental impact on the environment".
It cited data from NHS Digital showing the number of young people vaping is continually rising, with one in five 15-year-olds using e-cigarettes in 2021.
Animal welfare groups including the RSPCA and the Marine Conservation Society have also called for a ban due to the harm that irresponsibly disposed single use vapes cause to wildlife.
Why are single use vapes bad for the environment?
In September 2023, it was revealed by not-for-profit organisation Material Focus that five million single-use vapes are being thrown away in the UK every week, a four-fold increase on 2022.
This amounts to eight vapes being discarded every second, with the lithium in the products enough to create 5,000 electric car batteries a year.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, has pleaded for a ban on sales in order to protect the environment.
Environmental campaign group Greenpeace has found that the number of disposable vapes thrown away each year could fill 22 football pitches, and due to the way the products are made, disposable vapes are difficult to recycle.
How would a ban work?
According to the Local Government Association, which has pushed for the law change, a ban could be enforced through the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which gives the Government the power to ban "injurious substances" that damage the environment or harm human health.
A ban on disposable vapes can be achieved using these powers, as was the case with bans on plastic straws and other single-use items.
What could be a penalty for selling single use vapes?
It is illegal to sell E cigarettes, including Vaping liquids containing nicotine, to any person below the age of 18. An offence carries a fine of £2,500 and if single use vapes are banned this law could be extended to cover the sale of them.
A recent YouGov poll revealed that 77% of people would support a ban on disposable vapes in the UK.
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