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22nd February 2024

Sunak’s vape ban will dispose of the disposable

Love ’em or hate ’em, the timely end of disposable vapes is peeking over the horizon, and it is a glorious view from where I’m sitting
Sunak’s vape ban will dispose of the disposable
Credit: Elsa Olofsson @ Unsplash

I used to walk into parties full of cheap alcohol, overconfidence, and a lack of remorse for the dignity I would inevitably lose that night, and feel oddly welcomed by the stomach-curdling stench of warm beer and straight tequila. Now when I enter a party, the first smell that hits my nasal pathways is a mixture of saccharine fruit and artificial candy. I know it’s an objectively more pleasant odour, but when the flavoured vape clouds coming in from all directions hotbox the room into a vertiginous cocktail, I find myself longing for the familiar aroma of Eau de Stale Liquor.

As anyone knows by now, this isn’t because parties are some kind of vaping hotspot. Rather, they’re one of many daily destinations for a nicotine hit. My nose has become accustomed to the fruity fragrances exhaled around me as I walk through Platt Fields, between my university buildings, and around town. 

With the number of people who have become addicted, I’m surprised a collective vape cloud hasn’t descended around the planet to create a new ozone layer. But if a fruit-flavoured atmosphere is developing, it is set to be blown away by the Prime Minister’s plans. 

Sunak has pledged to ban disposable vapes in the UK by the next general election. Being the benevolent philanthropist he is, the Tory PM decreed the intent behind this policy as a matter of concern for children’s health. Just call him Mother Theresa.

Despite my apparent cynicism, I fully support this ban. The clown in Downing Street is – for once in his career – correct. With the invention of these disposable e-cigarettes came an uptake in nicotine inhalation among children aged 11-17 years old, and the percentage of young people who vape has steadily increased with the years.

The irony of e-cigarettes, originally marketed to help people quit their smoking habits, creating a new generation of nicotine addicts hardly needs pointing out. Although it is evidently the marketing of vapes that can be attributed to the rise in child vaping. There is ongoing concern about the ostensive tailoring of vape flavours towards kids, investigated by what I can only imagine are some painfully awkward interviews scrutinizing vape company owners.

The reality of it is delirious. It’s like we live in a new world where a reporter sits in front of a businessman, staring him directly in the eyes, questioning whether ”gummy bear”, “cotton candy”, and “unicorn” flavoured vapes are really marketed towards adults. The sophisticated corporate man in the swanky suit tries not to crumble under the pressure of this unique form of torture. The sweat on his brow materializes from the sheer effort of trying to justify that, actually, it’s not for children, adults love gummy bears.

Albeit an unusual interrogation tactic, the point is made. The targeted sale of vapes has purposefully evolved in its age range to appeal to minors. The vape industry is like the modern-day version of the Child Catcher, enticing children with a colourful and eclectic mix of candy, except now he’s wearing a tie and boat shoes and waving an elf bar under their noses.

If it wasn’t already obvious, trying to make vapes appealing to children is downright immoral. There is uncertainty and concern over the health impacts of vaping – especially long-term ones – however, doctors have already warned that the implications for children are dire. Vaping for even a couple of years could result in chronic organ damage in young people. Slashing the possibility for children to take up this habit is possibly the only positive accomplishment Sunak’s government may achieve. But inevitably, not everyone is enamoured with this decision.

As a non-vaper, it’s easy for me to praise this plan. I’ve been seduced by the prospect of travelling between lectures without having to navigate a face full of tropical air exhaled freshly from the lungs of a passer-by. But for the of-age vapers who are trying to quit cigarettes, and the disgruntled business owners who will lose stable income to the ban (despite Sunak’s 6-month fade-out plan to allow businesses to adjust), the situation isn’t so black and white.

Having said that, many of those who do vape are also welcoming the measure with open arms. My housemate has been vaping since she was fourteen, and considers this “the one good decision the Tories have ever made.” 

As with every political agenda, the reception to this ban is mixed. But where the health of young people is involved, the UK can’t morally afford to play devil’s advocate. Banning disposable vapes will also do wonders for the environment, and I will be able to walk the streets of Fallowfield without wading through a vape paddy field. Even better, I will strut into a party and once again be welcomed by the nostalgic, sickening smell of Lidl’s own-brand vodka instead of a pineapple crush cloud. I look forward to the return of those days.

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