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On the 20th October 2023, the UK Government released an open consultation outlining proposed changes to the current vaping laws in the United Kingdom. If you vape, now is the time to stand up and be heard as there is a chance that your favourite vape flavours along with disposable vapes could soon be banned, along with huge tax increases on vape products to bring the cost of vaping in line with the cost of smoking.
There is a chance, that under the new proposals that all vape flavours other than tobacco will be banned in the UK, that includes fruits, menthols, sodas, desserts, donuts, etc.
This consultation offers a crucial platform for vapers to influence the future landscape of vaping. It's a vital moment to speak up and shape the future of vaping as we currently understand it. If these measures become law, they will significantly limit the products accessible to you permanently and affect how easily adult smokers can reach a less harmful smoking alternative.
What Can I do to Help Protect Vaping in the UK?
To voice your opinion and aid in preserving vaping as we recognise it, we encourage you, your friends and family to participate in the Government's questionnaire. It only takes a few minutes, and together, we aim to safeguard the UK vaping industry. You have until 11:59pm on Wednesday 6 December 2023 to complete the questionnaire.
Please find a link to complete the UK Governments questionnaire here:
Please note that this is a consultation phase, and no definitive decisions regarding the future of vaping have been reached yet.
We hope that the Government works closely with vape industry associations, vapers and vape retailers before making extreme changes that will dramatically affect the UK vaping industry. Smoking is responsible for around 80,000 deaths each year in the UK and overregulation could be disastrous for ex-smokers who have turned to vaping as a harm-reduction tool by making vapes less accessible, more expensive and banning flavours that have they have found as an effective tool to help them replace cigarettes with vapes.
How Many People Die Each Year in the UK Due to Smoking Related Illnesses?
It's crucial to ensure that existing vapers don't return to smoking cigarettes due to the proposed Government regulations.
The consultation primarily aims to create a smokefree generation, and to tackle youth vaping. As a responsible vape company, we support regulations targeting youth vaping issues. However, we believe several proposals in the consultation might not effectively address this concern. Instead, they could adversely impact a significant portion of the UK population who transitioned from tobacco to vaping for healthier and cost-effective alternatives to combustible cigarettes.
The primary concern regarding underage vaping in the UK does not stem from compliant vape shops, law-abiding retailers, or vapers who adhere to regulations. Instead, the issue revolves around a small number of retailers willingly selling vapes, including disposables, to individuals below the legal vaping age of 18.
In prominent UK cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham, a significant portion of the vaping community can be observed using large-capacity vapes that blatantly violate TRPR and TPD regulations established by the Government. These same shopkeepers who retail these non-compliant vapes are likely also selling vapes to individuals below the legal smoking age.
We fully support regulations prohibiting the sale of vapes to minors or those below the legal vaping age. We advocate for imposing fines of up to £2,500 on retailers who do not adhere to these laws, emphasising that children must not have access to purchase vapes. Across all Tablites stores throughout the country, anyone appearing under 25 must provide valid identification confirming they are over 18 before any vape sale is completed.
We strongly believe that the Government should take firmer action in monitoring and penalising underage sales of vaping products. The alarming prevalence of youths vaping and the use of disposable e-cigarettes containing excessive e-liquid quantities beyond TPD and TRPR regulations is deeply concerning and entirely against our stance.
Government research indicates that sweet and fruity flavoured vapes are particularly appealing to children and individuals below the legal vaping age, drawing them in with their taste and aroma. The proposed solution involves restricting these enticing flavours in the hope that this measure will deter underage vapers, effectively resolving the issue of underage vaping in the UK.
In Great Britain, the ASH (Action On Smoking and Health) report Use of e-cigarettes among young people in Great Britain found that the most frequently used vape flavouring for children is ‘fruit flavour’, with 60% of current children using them. Seventeen per cent of children who vape choose sweet flavours such as chocolate or candy.
After a quick internet search for the term “flavoured alcopops”, the results pull thousands of flavours that according to the Government would appeal to children.
WKD Iron Brew, Hooch Pink Alcoholic Raspberry Lemonade, VK & Soda Berries. As well as sounding appealing to children these drinks are also appealing to adults.
The problem doesn't solely stem from the attractiveness of flavours but rather from how those below the legal vaping age obtain them. Prohibiting these flavours, similar to the ban on disposable vapes with e-liquid capacities over 2ml, is likely to foster a black market, as has been evident.
The danger of banning these flavours who have been assisting vapers since vaping was in its infancy over 12 years ago, will prevent adults from accessing their favourite vape flavours and in many cases will lead vapers back to smoking.
There have been mentions of altering the names and descriptions of vape flavours to make them sound less appealing to children which is a fair point. This could be a useful and helpful way to help partly solve this issue. We have already seen vape companies starting to make these changes like Elfliq nic salt by Elfbar have recently changed the name of “Rhubarb Custard” to “Rhubarb Snoow” as well as “Cotton Candy Ice” has been changed to “P&B Cloudd”. Do you personally think this will help? As previously stated, it's crucial to prevent children from purchasing any vape flavours. Implementing a fine of £2,500 for non-compliant shopkeepers is a key step toward resolving this issue.
There are suggestions mentioned in the Consultation that vape flavours could be restricted, with only certain flavourings like tobacco being allowed.
Many of our customers, and the wider vaping community no longer link their nicotine cravings to the taste of tobacco. Over the years, they've veered away from replicating the cigarette experience and embraced new, diverse flavours that differ significantly from traditional smoking. Favourites like Elux Legend Lemon & Lime, Tablites Blueberry, and Vampire Vapes Heisenberg have become beloved choices, aiding many in moving away from smoking habits.
An all-encompassing ban on flavours, leaving only tobacco, would be disastrous and lead to severe repercussions. Similar to illegal disposable vapes, this could spawn an unregulated black market for potentially unsafe vaping products beyond the Government's control. Additionally, individuals might resort to creating their e-liquids, purchasing raw ingredients like PG, VG, flavourings, and nicotine. However, we currently rely on expert e-liquid manufacturers operating in safe labs with specialised knowledge. Mishandling nicotine concentration or raw nicotine exposure could pose significant risks.
While we advocate for reasonable regulation, outright flavour bans might not be the most effective approach to addressing youth vaping issues.
Another possible proposal by the Government is to limit the characterising flavours including the taste and smell of vapes. Similar to the Menthol Cigarette Ban in 2020, where the characterising flavour of menthol was restricted from cigarettes.
Within the Consultation proposal, 3 options have been provided for which vape flavours the Government are considering limiting flavours to:
Implementing any of the aforementioned options would severely impact a substantial segment of the UK vaping market, penalising vapers unjustly. This approach is fundamentally flawed and would be detrimental to those who have done nothing wrong.
A report by ASH (Action On Smoking and Health) found that 74% of adults in England support the prohibiting of point of sale promotion of vapes. Unlike tobacco products, vapes are currently allowed to be displayed at the point of sale.
In removing vapes from view in retail destinations may well limit the exposure of children to vapes, but will also inhibit people who currently smoke from accessing vapes as a quit smoking aid.
At Tablites dedicated vape stores, our displays are filled with a huge range of vape kits, e-liquids, disposables and vape accessories so that beginner vapers can make an informed decision on which products are right for them. Our staff are well trained to help provide guidance and information to help our customers on their journey away from smoking.
The options presented in the Consultation for regulating point of sale displays of vapes are:
There is mention within the Consultation about how packaging and presentation of vapes could be restricted:
Smoking stands as the sole widely available product that, if continued, inevitably leads to health-deteriorating consequences. Vaping, although it delivers nicotine, differs significantly. While individuals may be addicted to nicotine, having a safer method to administer it should reduce the negative stigma surrounding nicotine delivery. Vaping stands as one of the most significant innovations in global public health, offering a safer alternative. It should not be conflated with the tobacco industry's negative associations.
When we enter a supermarket, we're greeted with an array of choices, varied flavours and numerous options. We distinguish between product types and flavours through the use of vibrant colours.
I can’t think of too many products in the vape industry that use cartoons, characters, animals on their packaging. So prohibiting this type of imagery on the packaging and presentation of vapes and e-liquids doesn’t seem like too much of an issue that would affect new vapers from starting and current vapers to continue vapers.
Prohibiting all colour on packaging would make it very difficult to navigate through flavours, strengths and brands. Tobacco products have been stripped of any identity, with the lack of colour and imagery. Cigarettes are very bad for your health, many experts recommend vaping as a safer alternative:
If we start to remove the colours, imagery and identity from vape packaging, we immediately associate vaping with the same negative connotations as cigarette smoking which is unfair and promotes the wrong message. The message that this promotes is that vaping is as dangerous as smoking which according to the NHS, Cancer Research UK, and many other leading medical institutions is untrue and will most likely deter current smokers from making the switch to a safer option.
We welcome new regulation that deters children from finding vapes an attractive option, but there is a fine line between making vaping a less attractive prospect for all including ex-smoking adults.
A report by ASH (Action On Smoking and Health) found that the most popular type of e-cigarette amongst youth in Great Britain was single-use disposable vape devices, with their use growing from 7.7% in 2020 to 52% in 2022. With continued growth since last year and 69% of children this year said disposables are the devices they use most frequently.
The most popular disposable vape brands used by 11-17 year olds are:
Amid concerns about the surge in youth vaping using disposables, the 2023 Consultation highlights proposals to restricting the supply and sale of disposable vaping products. Beyond their allure to minors, the Government expresses worry over environmental ramifications. Materials like plastic, copper, and lithium used in disposables pose challenges for recycling, resulting in approximately 5 million discarded disposable vape bars littering UK streets or ending up in general waste weekly.
Although eco-friendly alternatives to disposable vapes exist, the disposables remain the simplest option, providing unparalleled convenience and a maintenance-free experience for new vapers. They act as a gateway, easing the transition from cigarettes to effortless vaping.
Benefits of disposable vapes:
Disposable vapes have attracted many ex-smokers for the reasons outlined above, and will continue to offer a user-friendly entry level to the world of vaping if they don’t get banned under the Consultation. Once the vaping public including our own customers have made the switch with the help of disposable vapes, we urge them to advance to more sustainable vape kits compatible with bottles of vape juice. These alternatives are also easy to use, cheaper in the long run, offer ways to customise and tailor the vape to suit your specific vaping needs, and offer a wider choice of flavours and nicotine strengths.
At Tablites stores nationwide, we're committed to sustainable solutions, offering free disposable vape recycling points. Through our partnership with the Green Wings Project initiative, dedicated to recycling disposable vape products, we strive to contribute to global environmental conservation.
For those without access to our Tablites stores, check with your local council for guidance on recycling small electrical appliances. Discover your nearest recycling point here. https://www.recycleyourelectricals.org.uk/electrical-recycling-near-me/
A nationwide disposable vape recycling initiative by the UK Government could significantly curb the amount of disposable vape waste destined for landfills annually, making a substantial environmental impact. According to Greenpeace “Over 10 tonnes of lithium was thrown out with disposable vapes in the UK last year. That’s enough to make batteries for 1,200 electric cars!”.
The UK Government's dedication to achieving zero emissions through electric cars by 2025 may align with their efforts to decrease disposable vape waste. This alignment could potentially integrate with their own national disposable vape recycling initiative.
Nicotine free vapes and non-nicotine e-liquids are covered by the General Products Safety Regulations GPSR 2005 in the UK. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/general-product-safety-regulations-2005
This encompasses zero-nicotine disposable vapes, shortfills, and 0mg vape juices, which presently lack the same age restrictions or product standards as nicotine-containing vapes. Scotland has already regulated non-nicotine vapes and imposed age-related sales requirements for these products. The UK Government's Consultation suggests adopting legislation akin to Scotland's approach to prohibit the sale of non-nicotine vapes to individuals under 18. This initial step aims to safeguard children from accessing and using these vape products.
We understand the concern related to the youth finding non-nicotine vapes appealing, but the Government must be careful under these proposals not to alienate the vaping public who have switched to vaping from smoking and over time lowered their nicotine content. This is a great achievement no longer being addicted to nicotine, but require the associations linked to vaping, like the hand to mouth action, the throat hit from the PG in e-liquid, etc. These individuals should be praised and not punished.
There is currently a huge difference between the cost of smoking vs the cost of vaping. At Tablites you can pick up a rechargeable pod vape kit like the Aspire Gotek X for £9.99 (inclusive of a complimentary 10ml e-liquid) offers an affordable entry. Disposable vapes, priced at approximately £5 per 600 puffs. The reason vapes are more cost-effective than smoking is because they are only subject to VAT.
Smoking cigarettes on the other hand is 3 times more expensive than vaping because tobacco has VAT and duty (amounting to at least £7.87 on a pack of 20 cigarettes). Switching from smoking to vaping could save the average smoker in England around £670 annually. This cost gap plays a vital role in encouraging smokers to transition to vaping.
According to the Government, this cost difference also enhances the accessibility of vapes to young individuals and non-smokers, particularly disposable and refillable devices.
Average prices of vape products
The rationale behind the proposed vape price increase is to make vapes less accessible within the average child's purchasing capacity, acknowledging the significant influence of pricing on the appeal of vaping. However, while this measure aims to deter children from taking up vaping, it might also dissuade existing adult vapers in the UK or those considering vaping as a healthier alternative. Additionally, it could negatively impact progress in smoking cessation efforts, considering the widespread use of vapes as aids for quitting smoking.
I always understood that the tax on cigarettes was to help alleviate the burden on the NHS, and help compensate for the cost to society. According to ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) “Smoking costs society £17bn”. Smokers pay an estimated £12bn in England each year, which equates to approximately £2,000 per smoker.
It’s important to remember that the use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids is not the same as smoking. The UK Government website says… “While vaping may not be 100% safe, most of the chemicals causing smoking-related disease are absent and the chemicals which are present pose limited danger. It has been previously estimated that EC (electronic cigarettes) are around 95% safer than smoking.”
Fifteen European countries including Germany and Italy have introduced a national tax on vapes, and Canada has introduced a vaping duty. American research on the intended and unintended effects of e-cigarette taxes on youth tobacco use shows that taxes on vapes are associated with reductions in vaping, but at the potential risk of increasing youth smoking.
If the cost of smoking and vaping are similar, this could drive a large percentage of the current young vapers in the UK to smoking cigarettes. According to the NHS the use of e-cigarettes is far less harmful than cigarettes. They do not burn tobacco and do not produce tar or carbon monoxide, two of the most damaging elements in tobacco smoke. E-Liquid is heated that contains nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, and flavourings.
In contrast cigarettes produce tar and carbon monoxide, two of the most harmful elements in tobacco smoke.
Our customers, and the vaping public are addicted to nicotine, but most of the harm from smoking comes from the thousands of other chemicals in tobacco smoke, many of which are toxic. While vaping is not completely risk-free, it poses a small fraction of the risk of smoking cigarettes.
The UK Government are looking to hand out fines of up to £2,500 for retailers that are ignoring age restrictions for the sale of tobacco products and vapes. For repeat offenders, local authorities can apply for a court order to prevent the offending retailer from opening for a period of time.
In my view, this is the best option within the proposal that could really make a difference to help tackle underage vaping. My only concern is that local authorities and Trading Standards will not be able to police this, like we have seen with the large number of shops selling big puff large capacity disposable vapes that are illegal to use and purchase in the UK.
We believe that regulation could help with tackling the issue of youth vaping and creating a smokefree generation, but creating a nanny state and introducing policies that are overprotective and interfering with excessive laws could cause more harm than good.
By making vape products more difficult for adults to access, will create an underground economy that will flood the UK vaping market with low quality, unregulated and potentially dangerous vapes, that will present far more problems and dangers to health than the currently existing products available to us today. If not careful with their approach the UK Government could revert smokers back to cigarettes, and restrict the harm reducing tools, leaving them with fewer options.
Thank you for reading and we hope you found this article informative and has helped you better understand the UK Governments 2023 Consultation. If you vape, live in the UK and want to help oppose these proposals then head over to the gov.uk website and have your say (please find link at the top of the page).
Should you require any help, guidance, or information regarding e-liquids, vape kits, disposable vapes, pods, tanks, or coils, do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our dedication is to offer the assistance and advice you need, ensuring you have the best vaping experience possible.
Tel: 0161 723 0064