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Government 'Acting Decisively' on Vapes? It's Not that Simple...

Government 'Acting Decisively' on Vapes? It's Not that Simple...

It's frustrating that policy-makers still seem to think that banning something will mean it ceases to exist. The Scottish Government has published the statutory instrument it will use to ban disposable vapes and by the time you read this Westminster may well have followed suit, with both jurisdictions deliberately using the parliamentary mechanism that will attract the least debate and attention. 

I’m proud of our very detailed submission to the consultation on vape regulation last year and the several meetings with the Department of Health and other government departments where we have explained our members’ views, and by the campaigns we have run to promote responsible retailing of vapes going back over a few years and most recently our guidance on vape recycling. 

Sadly the decision has been made to press ahead with a ban and our scope to influence this decision is quite limited now. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, because this is simply bad policy that won’t achieve its objectives and will hurt local shops, and because if we let policies like this become law without calling out their obvious weaknesses, what else might be done in the future? 

Not that it’s unreasonable for any government to look at big policy interventions in this area. It’s outrageous that some (far too many) kids are vaping and it’s appalling that the precious materials that make up vapes aren’t being recycled. Laws exist to prevent both those things … but they aren’t properly enforced. So why would a ban on disposable vapes be enforced any better? 

The rogue shops, white vans and websites will continue to operate, the products with too much nicotine and goodness knows what other banned chemicals will continue to be imported without effective testing, and the kids using those products will continue to use them. The only difference will be that the VAT won’t be collected for the government, and the profit margin will be diverted from legal, tax-paying businesses to criminals. This isn’t speculative, it’s a description of what happens now in a market where at least a third and according to some estimates over a half of the market consists of illegal products.

The Government will say that they have “acted decisively” and “rid the streets” (by all means use this as a bingo card of phrases used when we hear ministers justify this policy) of the products they have outlawed. If only it were that simple. Our research suggests that 8% of those who use disposable vapes (that’s equal to 300,000 people) would switch back to smoking if disposables were banned. Nearly a quarter (24%) would continue to use disposable vapes, presumably having no qualms about sourcing these illegally. Nicotine is an addictive substance, assuming that vapers would simply stop using it is not only naïve but flies in the face of decades of work to promote smoking cessation. 

Please let your MP know about the impact of this policy, and why it won’t be effective.

This entry was posted by Chris onTue, 27/02/2024 - 10:58
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