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    Retailers react sharply to disposable vape ban

    A selection of disposable vapes with bright and colourful packaging are seen in a convenience store, on January 29, 2024 in London, England. Rishi Sunak announces a ban on disposable vapes in the UK as part of government plans to tackle the rise in youth vaping and protect children's health. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

    Banning disposable vapes in the UK will not help people give up smoking and vaping but will only fuel the illicit market, independent retailers have warned.

    In an announcement today (29), the government has published the responses to its consultation on “creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping”, outlining plans to go ahead with a ban on single use vapes and a range of other restrictions.

    Other measures include stricter controls on the refillable vaping market, with restrictions on characterising colours and flavours, the location in store that vapes are permitted to be sold, and the packaging that vapes are sold in, although these are all subject to further consultation.

    In response to the announcements, Association of Convenience Stores chief executive James Lowman said, “There are rules already in place to stop children purchasing vapes, to stop vapes being littered and ensure they can be recycled, and to punish those who sell illicit products but they are either not being enforced effectively or not at all due to a lack of resources provided to trading standards.

    “The Government’s proposals will have a significant operational and financial impact on legitimate retailers, while rogue sellers will continue on without concern.”

    Muntazir Dipoti, the National President of the Federation of the Independent Retailers (the Fed), has also criticised the government decision.

    “While we agree that action is needed to prevent children and young people being attracted to vaping, we do not believe that banning disposable vapes is the way to go about it.”

    “An outright ban will simply send youngsters towards unorthodox and illicit sources where there is no compliance to tobacco and vaping laws, while the  products they peddle are likely to contain dangerous and illegal levels of toxic chemicals. Disposable vapes are usually more affordable and, as such, are a bigger incentive for adult smokers to change to vapes.”

    To clamp down on young people vaping, the government needed to make more financial resources available for educational campaigns, while more enforcement activity was required, especially at borders to prevent counterfeit products entering the market, Dipoti continued.

    Meanwhile, the introduction of a disposal scheme – similar to the deposit return scheme being planned for single use drinks containers – would better address the government’s concerns on the environmental impact that these products have.

    Dipoti explained, “Vape retailers are responsible and offer a recycling option, but the government should be looking at making available more ways to safely recycle disposable vapes.”

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