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A deep dive into the disposable vape ban – how will it impact the high street?

As Rishi Sunak recently announced the ban on disposable vapes, we questioned the street to find out how the main vendors of them feel about the news.

Lost Mary, Elf, Crystal, and many more of the brightly coloured, multi flavoured vapes are set to disappear from the high street newsagents and vape shops forever, thanks to Rishi Sunaks’ government taking the initiative to outlaw the novelty looking nicotine products.

In a press release sent out by GOV.UK on the 29th of January, the disposable vape was given its’ final nail in the coffin as the release dived into the damage that vapes had been causing, and claiming that the number of children now using vapes in the past 3 years has tripled with use among younger children also rising, with a staggering 9% of 11- to 15-year-olds now using vapes.

And these figures ARE alarming - but are not surprising. Nearly all of the disposable vapes readily available on the high street are physically popping with every colour under the rainbow and all offer a sweet shop shaming array of flavours. Available options seen nowadays can go from traditional fruit flavours to fresh mint flavours and more.

Knowing how many vape choices and brands are out there, it is no surprise that statistics from surveys show an extraordinary trend. According to ASH – Action on Smoking and Health, around 48% of current vapers age between 18 - 24 use disposables as their main type of device in 2022, a whopping increase from 2.8% in 2021.

This trend seen in the ASH survey is easily spotted in the high street. You can’t go far without seeing a small puff of flavour rising up from one of the colourful tubes. But how did they become so popular in the first place?

The first vapes to make their way into British markets were seen back in the early 2000s, when Chinese chemists produced the first products that utilised electricity to produce a smokeless cigarette. These cigarette styled products were the catalyst for the boom that we now see today. But electronic smoking goes back much further than this.

A man named Herbert A Gilbert was knowledgeable of the damage that tobacco smoking could do to your lungs, so filed a patent for an electronic smoking device back in 1963. The device never took off thanks to the widespread popularity of cigarettes and lack of knowledge about the dangers of cigarettes, but Herbert had created something that was way ahead of its’ time.

Advances in the e-cig market and increased caution over cigarette usage in the 2000s has now led us into what can only be described as an e-cig boom – which is now being curtailed by the government. Here is exactly what the government outlined in its’ press release:

  • New powers to restrict vape flavours, introduce plain packaging and change how vapes are displayed in shops so they don’t appeal to children  
  • New law will make it illegal to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009, delivering on the Prime Minister’s pledge to create a ‘smokefree generation’.

 

 So now knowing much more about the world of disposable vapes, we take to the streets of Ashton to find out just how the ban is going to impact the high street traders?

News vendors and small markets are one of the main vendors on the high street for disposable vapes, so we collected quotes from five vendors in and around Ashton Arcade, the indoor and the outdoor market.

Of the five vendors visited, all of the shops claimed that they did not sell many vapes anyway so the ban would not impact their store very much, with one newsagent telling us that the reason behind this is because people are increasingly looking for the vapes that carry a higher usage per vape (a 1000 puff device over a standard 300 puff device).

One of the shops, a mobile shop that wished to remain anonymous, also claimed “I am not worried as this (vapes) is just a side business, the main focus is the phones. We also do the liquids here so that will carry on if the disposables are banned. I feel sorrier for the shops that only do vapes.”

E Cig Liquids and Accessories is the main shop in Ashton that specialises in solely vape products, and alongside the disposables the shop stocks all of the equipment needed for a reusable vape. On the topic of disposable vapes, the shop told us: “We cannot wait. We sell all sorts but to the staff the disposable vapes are not worth it.”

 

This came as a shock at first, but it begins to make more sense when the profit margins are considered. A disposable vape does not carry much profit for staff at a dedicated vaping shop, whereas a fully-fledged kit or liquids for refilling one are a much more profitable venture for the business. With this considered, it is no wonder that the dedicated shops are looking forward to the ban.

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