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    Disposable vape ban to provide £645m boost to illicit trade: ACS

    Photo: iStock

    The Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has called on the government to focus on effective enforcement to deal with the huge illicit trade in vapes that will receive a £645m boost if disposable vapes are banned next year.

    In response to the government’s short consultation on the proposals to ban disposable vape devices from April 2025, ACS has highlighted a number of fundamental issues with Defra’s own impact assessment on the ban, warning that it has significantly underestimated the losses that will be felt by retailers.

    The impact assessment fails also to recognise the significant illicit trade that already exists and will receive a huge boost when disposables are banned.

    Consumer polling conducted by Yonder for ACS of existing vape users suggests that almost one in four (24%) will continue to use disposables after a ban is introduced. The only way they’ll be able to source those products is from illicit sources, resulting in a £645m annual loss to the convenience sector in turnover from disposables alone.

    “The way that the Government has gone about justifying its case for a ban on disposables is completely inadequate,” James Lowman, ACS chief executive, said.

    “The impact assessment gets basic figures wrong and attempts to sweep the already massive illicit market under the rug. What the government is trying to avoid is a meaningful debate about enforcement and proper funding for Trading Standards to be able to stop rogue traders, because it knows that Trading Standards teams are already stretched to their limits and do not have the resources to keep up.

    “Banning something does not mean it ceases to exist. If the Government were really committed to stopping children getting their hands on disposable vapes, then they would focus on cracking down on the illicit trade and enforcing the laws that already exist to prevent children from accessing these products.”

    The submission also raises concerns about the lack of clarity over the definition of a disposable vape, which the government have acknowledged requires more discussion. With just twelve months to go until a ban is scheduled to come into force, it is worrying that the government doesn’t entirely know what it wants to ban, the trade body noted.

    ACS has encouraged retailers to contact their MPs to highlight their concerns about the disposable vape ban and the impact that it will have on their business. A template email is available for retailers to utilise here.  

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