The vaping industry could look at increased efforts to crack down on disposable e-cigarettes as its own failure to provide more viable solutions that may have curtailed countries around the globe taking legal actions.
Several jurisdictions have already announced they would examine their plans to ban disposable vape products in the new year, which has also led to some saying they would look at strengthening regulations around vaping in general.
Furthermore, international organisations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) have also called for urgent action to protect children and other non-smokers in order to minimise health risks for the general population.
The WHO’s call for action emphasises the direction motivation for action on disposables is coming from. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “Kids are being recruited and trapped at an early age to use e-cigarettes and may get hooked to nicotine. I urge countries to implement strict measures to prevent uptake to protect their citizens, especially their children and young people.”
But this may be as much an issue of perception and image as it is anything else. Evidence of youth vaping leading to smoking remains unclear and there are questions over whether it is even that big a deal.
What the environment’s got to do with it
The other primary motivation for banning disposables is their environmental impact. Critics of bans as a measure to address this have continually said the real issue with the environmental impact of disposables has more to do with the lack of recycling than with the product itself and that banning them would deny many smokers an opportunity to switch to a more easily adaptable cigarette alternative while also being relatively easy for companies that want to skirt restrictions to do just that.
ECigIntelligence has previously reported views from industry insiders, particularly in the UK, who want to find solutions on disposables that would avoid their being banned in more jurisdictions.
In an interview at the beginning of last year, Brian Watts, product manager for Central and Eastern Europe at UK manufacturer Vape Dinner Lady, said that recycling boxes should be mandatory for any shop or location that sells a single-use product, using a “polluter pays” model.
And a spokesperson from Elf Bar told ECigIntelligence the company was in advanced discussions with one of the producer compliance scheme providers over the collection and sustainable disposal of its products across the UK.
Is there still time to act?
But are such calls to action and first steps already too late? Looking back at 2023, even in the UK – where a national ban on disposables has always been unlikely – public health sectors and governments in regions such as Wales and Scotland have started to wonder about the viability of banning them on their own.
Likewise, several jurisdictions in the US started to consider banning disposables. And there is pressure on legislators to take action at the federal level as well.
Beyond that, a general strengthening of regulations around vaping is also expected. For example in Belgium, there is a decree bringing nicotine-free vaping products under the same sort of rules as those applied to nicotine-containing ones.
So does this mean the industry has not done enough to collaborate with regulators over the issues that really lead to calls to ban disposables – youth uptake and commercial waste? Studies continue to show increases in vaping and a drop in smoking – despite continual increases in regulation on the products.
This seems to suggest vaping is here to stay despite legislative strictness. And that at least is a reason the vaping industry should carry on looking at the new year with a sense of optimism.
– Antonia Di Lorenzo ECigIntelligence staff
Photo: Ernst-Günther Krause (NID)