UK Environment and Health Organs Call for Ban on Disposables


Credit: Green Alliance


In an open letter to the Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey and Health Secretary Steve Barclay, 18 environment and health groups, including Green Alliance, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Marine Conservation Society and RSPCA, demand the government ban the sale of single-use e-cigarettes to stem their “rapidly escalating threat” to public health and the environment. [1]


The demand follows research from Material Focus earlier in the year that showed that at least 1.3 million disposable vapes are thrown away every week, equating to two vapes per second, enough to fill 22 football pitches per year. [2]


The groups argue that disposable vapes are “unnecessary electrical items” that contain single use plastic, nicotine and batteries, all of which are “hazardous to the environment and wildlife when littered”.


The products also contain lithium, which is a critical material for the net zero transition, such as in the manufacture of electric vehicles. The ten tonnes of lithium discarded from disposable vapes each year is the same as needed for 1,200 electric vehicles. [3]


Uptake of disposable vapes among young people is “particularly concerning”, write the groups, with a seven-fold increase in the percentage of 11 to 17 year olds opting for disposable products since 2021. [4]


Rather than helping existing smokers to give up the habit, multiple health professionals have warned that disposable vapes risk creating a new generation hooked on nicotine, with emerging evidence showing there could be an increased risk of chronic lung conditions. [5]


As reusable vapes are available and accessible, banning single use e-cigarettes would not inhibit public health efforts to enable people to quit smoking or the government’s commitment to achieve a smoke-free generation by 2030. 



[1] Open letter addressed to environment and health secretaries from environment and health groups, November 2022 

[2] Material Focus, One million single use vapes thrown away every week contributing to the growing e-waste challenge in the UK, July 2022 

[3] Ibid 

[4] Action on Smoking Health, Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among young people in Great Britain, July 2022. The research found that the most frequently used e-cigarette product among young people in Great Britain was a disposable vape (52.0 per cent compared to 7.7 per cent in 2021). 

[5] BBC News, Vaping – is it a risk-free option?, June 2022 


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