Christopher Snowdon

Banning disposable e-cigarettes won’t stop kids vaping

Disposable vapes with bright and colourful packaging on sale in a shop (Credit: Getty images)

The government thinks it has finally found a popular policy. Better still, it is a policy that it can implement, or at least legislate for. According to a press release from the Department of Health and Social Care, a ban on disposable vapes is supported by ‘nearly 70 per cent of parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and the general public’. The British public love a ban. Last month a survey found that 29 per cent of us want to close the nightclubs to deal with the remnants of Covid-19 and 20 per cent want to re-introduce lockdown.

So, vox populi, vox dei? I think not. Support for banning disposable e-cigarettes needs to be put in the context of another survey carried out a few weeks ago which found that 41 per cent of the population think that vaping is as unhealthy as smoking; a further 11 per cent think it is worse. Only 24 per cent picked the correct answer which is that smoking is a lot worse. When the majority of voters are so woefully misinformed, politicians should not pander to them.

If adults respond to the ban by buying cheap refillables, what is to stop children doing the same?

At the heart of this issue lies a genuine problem. In recent years, there has been a glut of cheap, brightly coloured disposable vapes coming in from China and being sold to minors by unscrupulous retailers. The vapes themselves are often illegal (over four million of them were seized at the border last year). The illegal sale of illegal vapes to children is a problem of law enforcement, but it is easier for the government to create another law than to enforce the laws that already exist.

For the minority of Britons who understand that vaping is much less hazardous than smoking and that e-cigarettes are proven to be the most effective way to get people off cigarettes, banning a whole category of vapes is a risky move.

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