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It’s Confirmed: What You Should Know About the Upcoming Ban on Disposable Vapes

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They can be seen in corner shops, supermarkets, and vape shops across the UK, peering out from behind the counter in glass cabinets or Perspex counter displays. Also known as e-cigarettes, vape pens have found their way into popular culture, with as many as 4.5 million users of these devices in the UK. They’re accepted as being a cleaner way to absorb nicotine and are seen as a less harmful alternative to smoking.

However, since the boom of disposable vapes in 2021, the UK government has been seeking to ban single-use devices due to concerns over health and waste ever since. A date has not yet been set for when this ban will occur, but it’s likely to be sometime this year.

So, what do you need to know about the disposable vape ban in the UK? Here’s a quick overview from our team at The Electric Tobacconist to bring you up to speed.


Disposable Vapes

First, it’s important to define what a disposable vape is under UK law so you know exactly what the ban entails. The single-use vape ban will target disposable vapes, which are also known as puff bars. They usually come in a range of colours and flavours and are prefilled with 2ml of nicotine salt e-liquid. The highest legal nicotine level they can contain is 20mg, making them on the higher end of the nicotine concentration spectrum. They can’t be refilled or recharged; therefore, once they’re empty, they’re simply thrown away.

Why Is The Ban Happening?

The ban that’s occurring in 2024 is due to two factors which are of public concern. The first is pollution. The number of disposable vapes discarded in the UK per week in 2023 was estimated to be a whopping 5 million - this soared from 1.3 million in 2022. Given there’s already an issue with single-use plastics, and with a ban now in place on plastic straws and cutlery, it seemed to be a bit of a double standard to not place the same restrictions on disposable vapes.

It’s worth noting that the dilemma here is not just the plastic. Technically, disposable vapes are recyclable; however, the fact they contain an integrated battery is what poses a problem. Plastic materials and batteries aren't recycled together; therefore, when you send them to a landfill, there is still labour required to separate these components for proper disposal. Although there are already some brands that have created dismantlable disposable vapes for this exact purpose. You could argue most of the UK population wouldn’t bother disposing of these. On the other hand, the counterargument would be that the government hasn't set an easier recycling system in place. Both of these factors lead to the littering of these products.

Next, there’s a concern about health, particularly in young people. It’s true that in the UK, it’s illegal to purchase vaping products if you’re under the age of 18. However, these devices are being sold on the black market and are in circulation among younger people, especially those attending secondary schools.

Will All Vape Users Be Affected?

If you’re someone who relies solely on disposable vapes, you’re going to be affected when the ban comes into place. For many users, the convenience of being able to buy a disposable vape while out and about will be problematic, but there are solutions.

Many online retailers that sell vaping products, like the Electric Tobacconist, can help you look into refillable kits as well as e-liquids. These are all perfectly legal and can allow you to enjoy a wide range of different nicotine strengths and flavours without needing to throw the vape pen away.

What About Higher Puff Disposable Vapes?

We know that many disposable vape brands market themselves as having a slightly higher puff rate than the standard 600 puff count as a way to attract customers. However, when it comes to the highest possible amount of puffs you can take from a vape, the average is 600 because each disposable vape device only offers 2ml of e-liquid. So, yes, even the single-use vapes marketed as longer-lasting will be illegal in the UK.

Can I Still Buy/Order Disposable Vapes Now?

Yes, you can. Even though this law is pending (so to speak) and will come into effect this year, you can still buy and order disposable vapes. As of the time this article was published, there are no restrictions in place.

International Online Ordering: Disposable Vapes

We know what you’re thinking; this law only impacts the UK, so if I order a disposable vape from another country via the mail, it wasn’t technically bought in the UK. It sounds like a logical loophole, but you would be wrong.

The UK is one of the first countries globally to pass this law, but internationally, a lot of countries are following suit. So, while it may seem like you have an ace in your sleeve to order disposable vapes from an EU country, it’s not a viable option in the long term, as these items are set to be banned there, too. Sorry!


So, if you’re caught with a disposable vape kit or a company like ours is caught selling these products, what will happen?

At a glance, it seems that there are some serious repercussions. Nothing more has been confirmed as of yet, but it seems as though this law will fall under powers already in place (e.g., The Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 & Environmental Protection Act); therefore, according to these laws, if a company like ours or a local corner shop are found to be selling disposable vapes, the local authority (Trading Standards) may impose a hefty fine. This is similar to the laws surrounding the selling of tobacco products to children who are underage (The Children & Young Persons Act 1933, Section 7). We, as retailers and suppliers, may also have to go to court in such a scenario.

Now, if you’re looking to purchase a disposable vape, what does it mean for you if you’re caught with one? Well, there’s not really any punishment for this so far. The local authorities are only considering the sale of disposable vapes as an offence. Therefore, the most they may do is ask you to dispose of it or even question where you acquired it. To conclude, we advise all adult vapers to get ahead of the game and explore refillable, rechargeable and reusable options instead.