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Disposable vape ban hits stocks, divides experts

January 30, 2024

Photo: iStock

Britain’s plan to ban disposable vapes hit some e-cigarette stocks and drew a mixed reaction from experts on Monday, with some concerned it could hurt efforts to stem the death and disease caused by cigarettes.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said single-use vapes had driven an increase in youth vaping in the country, with the government citing figures showing the number of children using vapes had tripled over the past three years.

Other countries, like France, have already flagged plans to ban disposables but unlike elsewhere, Britain’s government has put vaping at the core of its efforts to reduce smoking including previously announcing a scheme to hand out free vape kits to smokers looking to quit.

Shares in vaping company Chill Brands had collapsed 29 per cent by 1505 GMT on Monday. Supreme PLC, which also sells disposable vapes, initially fell almost 10 per cent before recovering to stand 7 per cent higher.

Supreme did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Chill Brands said it would accelerate plans to bring a non-disposable vape to market, and that single-use vapes played an important role in helping people to quit smoking.

Researchers have found disposable vapes are widely used. One study published this month found that some 1.2 million current UK smokers use disposable vapes, as well as 744,000 former smokers.

“A ban could have substantial unintended consequences for these groups,” said Sarah Jackson, principal research fellow at University College London’s Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group and lead author of the study.

It could discourage smokers from switching completely to vaping, which is less harmful, or trigger a relapse among those who have quit with the help of disposables, she continued.

Caitlin Notley, professor of addiction sciences at Norwich Medical School in the University of East Anglia, said the focus should remain on reducing smoking, as it is uniquely deadly.

But the government’s move was backed by Mike McKean, vice president for policy at The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, who said bold action was needed to curb youth vaping.

“The research and data around widespread e-cigarette use is still very much in its infancy,” he said, adding the long-term health impacts, especially for young people, are not known.