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Health Policy

Policy options to tackle the issue of disposable (single use) vapes

Aug 2023

This paper by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) and Material Focus sets out the problems being caused by disposable vapes, policy options for addressing these, and how potential adverse unintended consequences could be mitigated.

Since 2021 a new type of disposable vape has come on the market which is easy to use, attractive and widely available at prices children can easily afford. Prior to their emergence in 2021, significantly fewer children vaped, and when they did they mainly used rechargeable, reusable vapes, which are significantly more expensive to buy.

There is also growing use of disposable e-cigarettes by adult vapers, and sales of disposable, single use vapes have grown rapidly as has their environmental impact.
Disposable vapes are single use plastic devices containing a lithium battery, which are commonly used for only a day or so before being discarded, with inadequate recycling.

Use of disposable e-cigarettes by adult vapers has also grown substantially. In 2021 the overwhelming majority (95%) of adult vapers said their main device was a rechargeable, refillable vape. By 2023 the use of rechargeable vapes as the main device had fallen to 67%, while disposables as the main device had risen to 31%.

The policy objective is to reduce underage vaping, and the adverse environmental impact of disposable vapes. Three potential policy options are examined in the paper and under each option the potential benefits and risk mitigations are detailed.
1) Do nothing
2) Ban disposable vapes
3) Strengthen regulation of disposable vapes