An open letter to UK Govt Environment and Health Secretaries demanding the banning of single-use e-cigarettes.

In September 2022, Bin Twinning team member Laura Young – known on social media platforms for her environmental activism as ‘Less Waste Laura’ – kicked up a fuss about the dangerously named ‘disposable vapes’ on her Twitter page…

A screenshot of a Tweet showing image of white female holding up a disposed e-cigarette to the camera

Two months later Laura’s tweet has gained momentum. And this week, on the 24th November, the Green Alliance UK has published an open letter calling for the government to Ban Disposable Vapes. 

Bin Twinning has joined Laura in signing the open letter to the Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey and Health Secretary Steve Barclay, along with 16 environment and health groups. Including Green Alliance, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Marine Conservation Society and RSPCA, demanding 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] 

Bin Twinning backs the argument 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’, 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. 

Laura Young, Bin Twinning, said: 

‘Tackling these pointless single-use items is critical for us to set a precedent for conscious consumerism and environmental protection. Over the last few months I’ve found countless while on litter picks around my local area, and see them across the city on my commute to work. We cannot continue to use up the world’s precious resources, letting them go to waste after just one use.’

Join us in taking action 

Momentum continues to build and a debate has been scheduled in Westminster Hall for 4.30pm on Tuesday 29 November. 

Send your MP an email, and Tweet, asking them to attend. You can use the #BanDisposableVapes

Follow Bin Twinning and Less Waste Laura on Twitter to help spread the word. 

 

 

Footnotes

Thank you to the Green Alliance for their Press Release as a source of information for this blog. 

[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