It will come as no surprise to Vapouround readers that I do a lot of media interviews to communicate the good that the vape industry does, both in terms of harm reduction and on wider benefits to the economy, but this is often an uphill battle.
Some media outlets allow equal amounts of time for pro- and anti-vaping points of view during interviews but others concentrate, almost exclusively, on either pushing the anti-vaping agenda or allowing disproportionate airtime for guests who do so.
This attitude is not exclusive to the mainstream media and the UKVIA’s recent interaction with the Scottish Government’s ongoing review into disposable vapes is a good case in point.
This is a subject I will return to later. There is no doubt that single use products pose unique challenges to the environment and I have taken part in many debates on this issue.
The environmental harms are always given huge airtime but the great strides taken by many in the industry to lessen the environmental impact hardly get a mention.
I was recently at a reception at the Houses of Parliament where an independent study carried out by Waste Experts examined the recycling performance of two devices.
One, an existing and widely available single use plastic and aluminium vape, as well as a new cardboard-based product.
Waste Experts concluded that both products examined were ‘highly recyclable’ with between 97.6% and 99.29% of their components being either recyclable or recoverable.
Stewart Price, Scheme Manager at Waste Experts, said that by highlighting that, on the whole, single use vapes were highly recyclable.
The study indicated that the real environmental challenge in the vaping sector is the lack of availability and knowledge of collection systems and recycling.
More and more recycling companies are gearing up to handle vapes and we now urgently need a public awareness campaign and incentive programme to encourage and reward consumers for disposing of their used devices responsibly.
And this brings me back to the environmental review from the Scottish government which was jointly prepared by Zero Waste Scotland and Dr Dominic Hogg of Equanimator Ltd.
The review shortlists nine policy options for further consideration, including prohibitive measures which could have serious unintended consequences on public health and a proposed ban on single-use vapes which could see vapers deprived of their chosen alternative to cigarettes, thus driving up smoking rates.
In fact, I have written to Lorna Slater MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, to express the UKVIA’s serious concerns about the process of the review and what appears to be a singular lack of impartiality.
For example, the public and the wider vape sector were not invited to contribute to the review, and while the UKVIA and the IBVTA were permitted to provide submissions, their individual members were not.
The report also failed to reference any comments from the UKVIA, the UK’s largest vaping association with an extensive membership in Scotland.
My worry is that the Scottish consultation is fundamentally flawed and I would urge Scottish politicians to seriously consider the dangers of prohibitive policy put forward in the review, especially considering Scotland has the highest smoking prevalence of any UK country.
And finally… I was very happy to read that HM Revenue & Customs has announced stronger powers to combat illicit tobacco sales backed up by fines of up to £10,000 for any businesses and individuals who sell illicit tobacco products.
For more than two years now, the UKVIA has been calling on the Government to issue exactly the same level of fines for businesses and individuals who sell illicit vape products or who sell any vape products to under 18s.
If the government can do this for cigarettes, they can do this for illicit and underage vape sales, and there is no logical reason to delay taking action for a moment longer.
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