UK Survey Raises Concern About Youth Use of Disposable Vapes

The annual YouGov youth survey for Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) carried out in March and published on July 7th, has indicated an increase in teen vaping and experimentation via disposable vapes. 

Current vaping among U.K. children aged 11-17 was up from 4% in 2020 to 7% in 2022, reported the survey. While the percentage of teens who reported ever having tried vaping has increased from 14% in 2020 to 16% in 2022. In line with other reports, the survey found that disposable vapes are currently the most commonly used types of devices, with a concerning increase from 7% in 2020 and 8% n 2021, to 52% in 2022.

The survey reiterated that Elf Bar and Geek Bar are the most popular brands, with only 30% reporting having tried other brands. In fact over the past year has been an increasing concern about the growing circulation of the products.

In January 2021, online vape platform IndeJuice reported a 279% increase in sales of disposable vapes in the final quarter of 2021 compared to the one before according to The Mirror. Flavours including “fruit” and “ice” accounted for 60% of sales.

Being cheap and disposable, teens are more likely to purchase one, and adding to the mix their generally light colours and fruity flavours, they tend to give the impression they are harmless. However, pointed out recently Dr Gareth Nye, a lecturer and researcher at the University of Chester, this is not the case.

“There is limited scientific evidence regarding these products, mainly [regarding] the liquid used to vape with rather than the vaping device itself as they have continued to change over the last ten years,” he said.

UK teen vaping is mainly experimental
On the otherhand, the ASH survey highlighted that 92% of under 18s who have never smoked, have also never vaped, so the increase in vaping is mainly experimental. “Just to give it a try” is still the most common reason given by never smokers for using an e-cigarette (65 percent). For young smokers the most common reason for using an e-cigarette was “because I like the flavors” (21 percent) followed by “I enjoy the experience” (18 percent) then “just to give it a try” (15 percent),  but they also said, “because I’m trying to quit smoking” (11 percent) or “I use them instead of smoking” (9 percent). Fruit flavors remain the most popular (57 percent).

Meanwhile, recent reports have highlighted that while in the UK disposable vapes are only allowed at a nicotine limit of 20mg, products which do not meet UK standards (such as ones having a nicotine content of over 20mg) are making their way into unsuspecting convenience stores. This is of course coinciding with the growing demand for the devices which some sellers are trying to capitalise on.

In fact, Geek Bar has recently sent letters to trading standards in major UK cities outlining the issue, following a number of raids. Geek Bar chief executive Allen Young said that for the problem to minimized, collaboration between different parties is required. “It’s easy to blame the manufacturer, but these products are finding their way into the UK through customs and being sold in retail outlets across the country.”

“There needs to be more collaboration and enforcement involving all parties, including trading standards, the vaping industry, retailer trade associations and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.”