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What New Vape Laws Are the Government Considering?

Dr Caroline Johnson
, conservative politician and consultant paediatrician, met with the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the governments action to tackle youth vaping, including new regulations pertinent to packaging, available flavours and disposable vapes. There is now a possibility that all flavours (save for Tobacco & Menthol) will be completely banned in order to protect the nations children. Watch a snippet of their meeting here.

The government are also looking to ban disposable vapes as these are rightly seen as the reason for the current youth-vaping crisis. In fact, at Drip Hacks we are certain that disposable vapes are the sole cause for the enormous uptake of vaping by children. Before the meteoric rise of disposable vapes like Elf Bars, there was not a single mention of youth vaping. The ban on disposable vapes actually makes sense on two fronts: youth vaping & the environmental disaster they are currently raging.

If single use plastic straws are now banned, it makes sense that single use vapes should also follow, at least if it’s in an attempt to reduce needless plastic waste. Youth vaping can be very effectively tackled with a bill that bans disposable vapes, and if properly enforced it will spell a huge drop in the number of children who vape.

Along with outright bans on disposables and available flavours, the government looks to levy a tax against vaping in order to raise the price, thus making them less affordable to children. If we consider that an Elf Bar typically retails for roughly £5, then it’s easy to see how children can afford to buy them.

So What Does This Spell For The Future of Vaping?

Despite the fact that it’s already illegal to sell anything vape related to minors, retailers continue to do so because of a lack of enforcement by the police. The question then is as such: If the government cannot enforce the current set of vape laws, how will they enforce new ones?

The answer is simple – they won’t be able to. The effectiveness of a ban on disposables or a complete flavour ban is questionable at best, but one thing is for certain: a vaping black market will boom.

Whilst we agree that youth vaping is a problem, especially when we have concrete evidence from the ash organisation that demonstrates this, we strongly disagree that resorting to outright bans is the right solution. We’ve also noticed contradictions in the government’s response to our attempts at contact with them. The government recognises vaping’s efficacy as a smoking cessation, even going so far as to suggest it’s the most successful yet, so a ban on the very thing (flavours) that incentivises smokers to quit is ludicrous.

As manufacturers of vape liquid and former smokers ourselves, we’re very much aware that vaping’s biggest allure is the flavour. With vaping, you’re not restricted to the dirty taste of burning tobacco and you can choose from literally thousands of great tasting fruity, dessert or menthol flavours. But further still, vaping is far less harmful than smoking, as purported by both the NHS and Public health England (which are both branches of the government). So to remove this incentive is to push vapers and would-be vapers back onto cigarettes. What happens then you ask? Smoking uptake increases. The government has spent an exorbitant sum of tax-payer money in order to reduce the number of smokers in the nation, including taxation, strict packaging laws and display regulations. All of these efforts pale in comparison to the effect that vaping has had on the number of smokers, and the best part is it’ hasn’t cost the tax payer a single penny, at least not directly.

Whether you’re involved in vaping or not, prohibition on such things is just more careless government control in our lives and it fly’s in the face of our freedoms. Why should any MP have the right to dictate whether we can vape a Raspberry Flavour or a Blueberry Flavour?

Effectively the government want to introduce outrageously unfair legislation that severely reduces our vaping options in order to protect the nations youth. This tact is a testament to our governments lack of understanding of the vaping market and life as a member of the general public. Millions of people now rely on vaping as a means to avoid smoking, and more and more people are making the switch every day – the innovation and technological advances employed by the vaping industry have done a favour for the government and indeed smokers world-wide – the death of tobacco and smoking is now closer than ever.

Our Suggestions to Combat Youth Vaping

Put simply, dramatically reducing youth vaping requires one thing: banning disposable vapes. We’re not actually in favour of this prohibition because it can quickly become a slippery slope and eventually result in other prohibitions. As we also mentioned, we’re not fans of the governments eagerness to implement more control in our daily lives, especially not over such menial things as vaping.

In any case, disposable vapes are an environmental disaster and have no doubt caused the youth vaping issue at hand. Though admittedly they have been instrumental in assisting smokers in their efforts to quit due to their simplicity. In fact, a 2017 study demonstrated that one of the reasons smokers were not switching to vaping was due to how complicated they were perceived to be.

This is of course a great argument against the governments proposed disposable ban, but we feel the environmental issues are too great. As the vaping industry continues to evolve we’ve seen an enormous boom in the number of simpler, smaller vape kits which look to replace disposables – and for many people that’s what they’ve done. So we now have a great solution to disposables which are not affordable to children. Is this the answer to the youth vaping issue? YES. OF COURSE IT IS. 

A tax on all vaping products is over-the-top (although we all know why the government will inevitably gun for it), sadly. If disposable vapes are no longer available, the next cheapest vaping product will be pod kits, and since they’re more complicated to manufacture, they carry a heavier price tag, they’re simple enough that any adult can understand them, but costly enough that children would be immediately less likely to buy them.

We also suggest far heavier fines against shops and online stores found to be selling them to children. Deterrence is a powerful tool when used properly, and the current fines are laughable.

The Issue With Prohibition

Firstly, and from a moral point of view – prohibition of such menial things like available vape flavours gives credence to the term “nanny state”. Invasive government control is becoming more & more frustrating as we find ourselves less able to do the things we like without licenses, permits and more red-tape.

Secondly, prohibition will simply not work. If you’re reading this article then you’re probably invested in vaping in some way, so you may remember a series of vape-related hospitalisations in the USA which saw massive media coverage, no doubt used by various governments in their attempts to further regulate the industry. These hospitalisations were caused by black-market products, untested and non-compliant.

That’s exactly what will happen here if prohibition is what our government decides is best for us. Not only will some individuals sell homemade e-liquid to their friends and family, other more opportunistic individuals will take it a step further. Social media will be their platform of choice and the government will have little hope of stopping them. If they can’t stop shops selling to kids, they won’t be able to stop Joe Bloggs selling unregulated, unsafe products to adults looking to vape a Raspberry flavour.

The whole prospect of a ban on flavours is absolutely preposterous and founded on nothing but arrogance & ignorance as the government ignores the pleas of an industry solely responsible for the downfall of tobacco sales. If the government were to leave the industry alone, or take the steps we suggest to combat youth vaping without going further, tobacco sales will eventually diminish and the health crisis with it.

In the face of such sensible solutions to solve youth vaping, it’s almost as though the proposed prohibition is has another agenda and the youth vaping crisis is a convenient trojan horse. After all, it’s no secret that the government is losing tax as tobacco sales are dropping rapidly.

What Do We Think Is Going To Happen?

Despite the petition to stop the ban on flavours, we think the government will go ahead and do it anyway. And we don’t think they’ll stop there: a tax levy is also coming. They tax every aspect of our lives so why wouldn’t they tax vaping? It’s easy money for them and will probably just be accepted by the nation.

Disposable Vapes will also be banned – something we’re less upset about but have expressed our concerns regarding this.

Vape Manufacturers like us have spent many tens of thousands on emissions testing, registrations and compliance with TPD regulations. Do we think we’ll get that money back if all the flavours we’ve paid for are banned? Nope.

The industry is in a sorry state of affairs and we think it’s because of the government’s lack of quick and decisive action. If they’d banned disposable vapes a couple of years ago, we’d not be wondering what to do when all our flavours are taken away from us.