The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England and Wales, has urged the government to ban the sale and manufacture of single use vapes by 2024, on environmental and health grounds.
The LGA said it is crucial that that ban comes into effect rapidly, as with the EU proposing a ban in 2026 and France rolling out a ban in Dec 2023, there is a risk that as markets close disposable vapes will flood into the UK.
Disposable vapes are a hazard for waste and litter collection and cause fires in bin lorries, the association claimed. Councils are also concerned about the impact vaping is having upon children and young people, it added.
The LGA also called for strict new measures to regulate the display and marketing of regular vaping products in the same way as tobacco.
“Councils are not anti-vapes, which are shown to be less harmful than smoking and have a place as a tool to use in smoking cessation,” Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said.
“However, disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed in their design and inherently unsustainable products, meaning an outright ban will prove more effective than attempts to recycle more vapes.
“Single use vapes blight our streets as litter, are a hazard in our bin lorries, are expensive and difficult to deal with in our recycling centres. Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and the penalties for retailers selling them don’t go far enough.
“Councils urge the government to take this action to protect our planet, keep children safe and save taxpayers money.”
Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), however, said a ban might have unintended consequences.
“ASH is sympathetic to calls by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and now the Local Government Association to ban single-use disposable e-cigarettes, but the risk of unintended consequences is too great for us to support a ban,” Hazel Cheeseman, ASH deputy chief executive, said.
“Children already find it easy to get hold of illegal vapes, as those selling them have no qualms selling to children, making them all illegal won’t help. The sale of illegal disposable vapes, already large and growing, will be turbo-charged if they are banned.”
The charity reiterated its demand for excise tax on disposable vapes.
“Illegal vapes go under the regulatory radar, they’ve been found to contain all sorts of toxic chemicals banned in legal products, and there’s no way to ensure they’re properly recycled. That’s why ASH supports putting an excise tax on disposable vapes, which could make them much less affordable, while giving much greater powers to Border Force, HMRC and trading standards to control their import, distribution and sale, and to force vape companies to ensure they are properly recycled,” Cheeseman added.