In light of recent discussions surrounding a potential ban on flavoured disposable vapes in the UK, the World Vapers’ Alliance (WVA) urges policymakers to consider the far-reaching consequences this move would have on public health and harm reduction. Such a ban contradicts the UK’s existing and successful harm reduction approach.
Michael Landl, the Director of the WVA, states, “Prohibition doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will. A ban on disposable vapes will not eliminate the demand but shift it from regulated markets to the black market, creating negative, unintended public health consequences.“
The ban on disposable vapes is counterproductive to harm reduction, says World Vapers’ Alliance. “Disposable vapes can act as a crucial stepping stone for smokers looking to quit,” comments Landl. “They offer an easy entry point, and many consumers eventually transition to open systems. Making that path from smoking to vaping as frictionless as possible is essential for public health. While cigarettes, known to be extremely harmful, remain readily available, banning a 95% less harmful alternative defies logic.“
Though there are concerns about disposable vapes’ environmental impact and attractiveness to young people, these issues can be addressed through smart regulation rather than an outright ban. “If disposables are banned, we won’t find solutions to these problems. Instead, we’ll leave them to the illicit market,” warns Landl.
The UK has recently widely acknowledged vaping as a smoking cessation tool through its “Swap-to-Stop” program, committed to further reducing smoking rates. According to the Office for National Statistics, UK smoking rates have fallen by more than 29% in the last decade (when vaping became popular). Compared to the EU, smoking rates in the UK have fallen twice as fast. This proposed ban threatens to undermine those gains and puts the UK at odds with its own best practices.
Landl adds, “Countries with an open harm reduction approach, like Sweden, which recently reduced taxes on snus, have successfully reduced smoking rates. The UK should not regress by adopting policies that have proven to be ineffective.”