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Disposable Vapes. The two words which are probably the most associated with Vaping currently, and also the two words that feature in every single negative media article that’s been printed about Vaping over the last 12 months, and likely to be ongoing in future articles as well.
There’s a lot of heavy criticism been dished out towards Disposable Vapes, with many calls from numerous health professionals and anti-vaping groups for these devices to be banned for many reasons, the primary reason being they are responsible for the youth vaping numbers increasing, not only here in the UK but also in different countries around the world.
But are they actually as bad as they’re portrayed? Well, I’ve took the time to find out what the experts relating to vaping have to say on the matter, and in this blog, I’ll be looking at statements made against Disposables and what they are apparently responsible for according to “facts” and see if they match up to what the experts have to say on the matter.
Disposable Vapes – What Are They All About?
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 18 months, or going into shops with your eyes shut, you definitely would have seen or heard of Disposable Vapes. The brightly coloured slimline devices, offering a “simple and ready to go” approach for Vaping in a vast array of delicious and mouth watering flavour concoctions.
Brands like Elf Bar, Lost Mary, Geekbar and Elux rule the roost within the Disposable industry, with sales of these devices sky rocketing in recent times. And these aren’t the only brands available as there’s so many out there now that half of this blog would be a long list of Disposable manufacturers and nobody wants to read that!
Disposables offer a simple and easy gateway to Vaping for people who may previously have had no experience with Vaping, or even if they have, they offer a no fuss approach by not having to change coils or refill with vape juice etc. They’re small sealed self contained devices, and inside the device is a coil, a wick, vape juice (which is normally Nic Salts) and a lithium-ion battery that powers the device.
These are not refillable nor are they rechargeable, and once the vape juice runs out or the battery runs flat, then they’re simply disposed of and that’s the end of it’s life. And this is where one of the primary problems of them come in to play which I’ll elaborate on later in this blog.
Nearly every single Disposable Vape manufacturer are based in China, and this is where all of the Disposables are produced and exported from. This also includes the Vape Juice used inside them as well and if you didn’t already know, China do not have regulatory checks to tick off when it comes to vape juice like what we have here in the UK.
Every retailer in the UK appears to be jumping on the bandwagon of selling Disposables, to meet the market demand as well as having another arm for their profits to increase. Shops like convenience shops, corner shops, petrol stations and even discount stores are pumping their shelves full of these colourful devices for prospective customers to buy.
Youth Vaping Increasing Around The World Due To Disposables
Disposables, as well as anything Vape related, were designed and marketed to adult users to offer them a safer and healthier alternative to smoking. Whilst they are doing the job for the adult demographic and helping people quit smoking, they are appealing to the wrong age demographic as well as being used by them as well, and that is the youth age bracket of 11-17 year olds.
This seems to be a worldwide problem, and not just here in the UK, with multiple countries admitting they have noticed an increase in the volume of youths classing themselves as vapers, and the primary device they are using is a Disposable Vape.
And this is where the problems are unfolding and what is encouraging all of these calls for Disposables to be banned from different countries which I’m going to take a look at now one by one.
Swiss experts are becoming more and more alarmed at the fact of the ever growing social media advertisement of Disposable Vapes, and their social media user base is predominantly those of the above mentioned age bracket. They label it as a “sharp rise in advertisement goes hand in hand with teen vaping numbers rising also”
Experts in Switzerland estimated last year that the vaping industry sales within Switzerland had potential to grow over 2220% with Disposables being largely responsible for this which is absurd, and I can’t find any statistics to see whether this was actually a reality unfortunately.
To put it short and sweet, Australia really do not like nor support Vaping. In the slightest. In 2021, they introduced a complete ban on the sale of vape juice which contained nicotine at any retail premises in the country. The only way people would be able to obtain this would be going to their Doctor and obtaining a valid prescription to then take to a Pharmacy where it would then be made to order.
Their reasonings for doing this was to discourage young people from vaping and limiting the access they previously had to obtaining Nicotine. But this essentially had the polar opposite effect, because in a review done a year later by Dr Colin Mendelsohn, it showed that the black market sales of Disposable Vapes had sky rocketed, with them being imported as “0mg Nicotine” and getting through border control, when in fact they contained 50mg Nicotine and corner shops, petrol stations and even Uber drivers were selling them to anyone and everyone who wanted one with no regard of age verification processes taking place.
A failure to control things was even admitted by the Head of the Therapeutic Goods Association a year after the ban was introduced but this didn’t stop even further restrictions being implemented that essentially ended recreational vaping in Australia.
Health Minister for Australia Mark Butler made the announcement only a few weeks back which laid out clear plans to bring an end to the youth vaping numbers rising in Australia by essentially ending recreational vaping as it stands in Australia. A very harsh and in my opinion, illogical approach to things, but the train continues to run over there straight into the helpless victim that is Vaping.
Now we finish off this part of the blog by coming back to home soil and taking a look at the current state of affairs when it comes to youth vaping here in the UK. Every year, Action on Smoking and Health commission surveys to be conducted by YouGov which ask a select number of 11-17 year olds questions about Vaping and Smoking to gain an insight into the usage, knowledge and behaviours of this age group and the aforementioned topics.
And authorities were put on high alert after the release of this years survey as the results showed that experimentation with Vaping has increased significantly due to Disposable Vapes. What is worth pointing out also is the number of 11-17 year olds who vape in the UK rose from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022, so that’s a pretty sharp rise and an understandable worry for authorities. And Disposable vape usage also rose from 7% in 2020 to a staggering 52% in 2022, an absolutely massive jump so you can see why eyes are being opened and concerns are being raised.
So what is the answer to all of these problems? Well the universal approach appears to be simply banning Disposable Vapes to stop them being appealing to children, but in turn, this would cause problems to adult vapers who may be relying on them to abstain from smoking. So for the final part of this blog, I’m going to take a look at what the “alarmists” as we will call them, are saying and match it up to what the experts on Vaping have said and see what the outcome is.
Alarmists vs Experts – Who’s Getting It Right?
We’ll start off with the UK seeing as we finished on it in the above section. The calls for a ban on Disposables here in the UK having been coming in thick and fast from different groups, most notably an MP, Dr Caroline Johnson, actually putting forward a Bill that’s been read in the House of Commons giving her reasonings for Disposable Vapes to be banned.
Within this Bill, she makes the statement:
“Most worryingly, an NHS survey published last year found that, among 15-year-old children in the UK, 18%—nearly one in five—considered themselves to be e-cigarette users”
And also, vice-president of the the UK’s Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a paediatric respiratory consultant, Dr Mike McKean, said that the college has made the “very carefully considered call”, of calling for a ban, in light of concerns from its members about an “epidemic” of child vaping. He added that there is a lack of research on the possible long term effects of the products, and said there is a growing number of children suffering from lung problems due to vaping.
I’ll break down each claim made here by these experts and use some evidence based research to compare.
Dr Johnson claims that an NHS survey published last year (2022) shows that 18% of 15 year olds consider themselves to be E-Cigarette Users. The survey that they refer to here is available to read on the NHS website, and the fact they have used doesn’t match to what is on the NHS website, it’s actually 9% so has this potentially been exaggerated a notch to emphasise the point and raise alarm?
Also, the term “e-cigarette user” is such a broad term to use, as this could mean that they either use one as much as daily, or just once or twice a week or even a month, so it does feel a bit blown up for emphasis.
Moving on to what Dr McKean has said, and they mention the ever popular word that comes with youth vaping, and that is “Epidemic” however, experts have actually said there’s not actually an epidemic happening as the volumes are not increasing at the rates to consider it.
Looking at the CDC who are based in the USA, they carried out a survey and vaping experts concluded that there is no such thing as an “epidemic” happening based on the results. And the results of this survey were notably larger than what the UK’s survey was, so for them to class it as no epidemic surely means the same here?
“Lack of research on long term effects” is partially correct to say, because that’s why Public Health England have not declared Vaping to be 100% safer than smoking, instead opted for 95% and have done since 2016. And other experts have backed vaping as a considerably safer option than smoking and actually encourage people to make the switch, including GP’s and Stop Smoking Services here in the UK.
And the children suffering from lung problems from Vaping could also be slightly blown a field for the emphasis of getting the point across. There was a mass outbreak of young people being admitted to Hospital in 2020/2021 with lung injuries from Vaping, but the veil was lifted on this and it was found that they were vaping cannabis containing vape juice, which has Vitamin E Acetate as one of the ingredients and was causing these lung injuries.
In regards to Australia, I mentioned Dr Colin Mendelsohn, who’s an advocate for Vaping and is a, now retired, GP based in Australia. He is very clued up and knowledgeable on the subject of Vaping and has spoken out against Australia’s rulings and strict regulations that they have bought in. He and his group even made predictions when the regulations of Nicotine vape juice being banned of what would likely happen and they near enough got it spot on to what actually did happen.
Dr Colin believes that regulating sensibly is correct but a total ban is not the answer. As this will just encourage people to turn to black market tactics to obtain what they cannot from legitimate avenues, as well as penalising those who have previously been using vaping products to stop them smoking, which they now cannot access with ease as previous.
To summarise, Disposable Vapes are causing no end of problems worldwide for the reputation of the Vaping industry. Being at the forefront of what youths are choosing to use when it comes to Vaping is a problem, but is a ban the answer? I really can’t answer that as it stands.
I’m on the fence as a ban would be good to rid them from the vaping world, and stop all of these negative media and press that’s being associated with our industry that has already had a constant barrage over the years, but a ban would hinder those who are of legal vaping age who may be utilising Disposable Vapes to keep them off of smoking.
If they did get banned, and people reverted back to smoking, then this would have a ripple effect on increasing the already massive death toll globally from smoking related diseases, hospital admissions would go up, as well as costs to our already struggling NHS.
Something needs to be done, but what needs to be done must be the right thing, but what that is? Who knows at this present time unfortunately…