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    C-stores criticise ‘naïve and inaccurate’ disposable vapes ban

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    Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has responded to the publication of regulations outlining the government’s plans to ban disposable vapes, highlighting the huge financial impact that the ban will have on retailers.

    The regulations, published today (11) alongside an impact assessment, confirm April 1 2025 as the date for the proposed introduction of the ban on disposables, with more detail on the £200 fines that will be issued for non-compliance. There is not yet a detailed definition of what a disposable vape is in terms of the features of the product, but this has been recognised by the Government as an area that requires more work.

    In the government’s impact assessment on the regulations, the cost of the ban is estimated to be over £1bn per year for several years, with a total estimated financial impact over time of more than £9bn. The vast majority of that impact is calculated to be the loss of profits by retailers who currently sell disposable vapes. However, the impact assessment has based these figures on the estimated profit or margin from disposables being 24 per cent, which is not accurate.

    The impact assessment also makes the assumption that while the Government expects there to be ‘100 per cent compliance’ with the regulations, there are some concerns about the illicit trade after the introduction of a ban. Further detail on how the Government is planning to tackle that illicit trade is not provided.

    ACS chief executive James Lowman said, “The government is at best being incredibly naïve about what is going to happen after the disposable vapes ban comes into force, convincing themselves that banning something will mean it ceases to exist. There are a wide range of fundamental problems with the impact assessment, chief of which is a drastic underestimation of the financial impact of a disposable vapes ban on retailers. Using the overall turnover figure for retail businesses to calculate the profit loss of a ban on disposables marks a complete failure in understanding the category.

    “The impact assessment also incorrectly refers to out of date WEEE regulations and thresholds on vape recycling that already changed in January this year. Given that these are regulations based on environmental concerns, it would seem important to be able to make an assessment that is accurate based on rules that are in force already to increase recycling rates of vapes.

    “There is nothing in the regulations or the impact assessment that will deter criminals and rogue traders, who will carry on regardless. To pretend that this will do anything but boost the illicit trade is fantasy policymaking.”

    UK wide consumer polling conducted by Yonder on behalf of ACS suggests that the behaviour of current disposable vape users after the introduction of a ban will be mixed. 24% of existing vape users intend to continue using disposables, so the illicit trade will be the only place where they will be able to get products. The illicit market already accounts for around a third of disposable vapes used in the UK. After a ban, there is likely to be a significant increase for the rogue sellers that will have no qualms about selling illegal, dangerous product to both adults and children.

    The regulations extend to England and Wales, but currently only apply to England. The Welsh Government is yet to set out its approach on the ban.

    Details of the regulations are available here. 

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