The UK Disposable Vape Ban: Implications and Alternatives

The UK Disposable Vape Ban: Implications and Alternatives

The UK will ban disposables on the 1st April 2025. Will this fuel the out of control black market and what are the alternatives for adult vapers?

Key Takeaways

  • In March 2024 the UK government introduced the Tobacco and Vapes Bill which included a ban on disposable vapes as well as a new tax on vape e-liquids.
  • The rise in underage vaping is cited as the main reason for the ban.
  • There are concerns that this could negatively impact adult vapers and fuel the black market.
  • Educating vapers about reusable alternatives is vital to prevent them from returning to smoking.


The UK government has announced its intention to ban the sale of all disposable vapes in conjunction with a new vaping tax and potential restrictions including flavour bans, plain packaging and limited display. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill was introduced to parliament on the 20th March 2024 and followed a lengthy consultation on smoking and vaping in 2023, which saw nearly 70% of survey respondents (1) calling for a ban on disposable e-cigarettes.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wishes to help smokers with the rollout of a Swap to Stop campaign in England, acknowledging that vaping is an essential tool in the government's ambition to achieve a smoke-free England by 2030. Citing the latest Cochrane review, they found strong evidence that vaping is the most successful nicotine replacement therapy and stated their aim to ensure that vape devices continue to be made available to current smokers, highlighting the fact that vaping has contributed to 50,000 to 70,000 fewer smokers per year.(2)

Disposable vapes have been hugely successful tools to help smokers quit their habit with over 7.7 million sold every week in 2023.(3) They have, however, also contributed to a rapid rise in vaping among children and young people. Join us as we explore the implementation and consequences of the disposable ban and other proposed vaping restrictions.

Table of contents

1. What are disposable vapes and why are they popular?

Disposable vapes are single-use electronic cigarettes that replicate the sensation of smoking but don't require any setup or prior knowledge to use. Prefilled with flavoured e-liquid and nicotine, and fitted with a precharged battery that is non-rechargeable, they have no buttons and can be activated by simply inhaling on the mouthpiece. The simplicity and convenience of this design have made disposables the go-to device for smokers who wish to quit. They are infamous for their intense sweetness, showcasing a variety of flavour options from fruit combos to candy, soda and desserts. The bright and colourful packaging reminiscent of sweet shop candies, coupled with the saccharine flavours has been blamed for making vaping so appealing to children.

Anyone not familiar with vaping will find disposables a step-free alternative to quitting tobacco, with some consumers naturally transitioning to more sustainable refillable vape kits later on. A single disposable kit will provide approximately 1-2 days of use (roughly equivalent to a pack of 20 cigarettes) before it runs out and needs to be replaced with a new one. A major downside is that most of the 30 million single-use vapes purchased every month in the UK are being needlessly thrown away.

Photo showing the internal components of a disposable vape device

2. Why are single-use vapes being banned?

The government has cited the rise in youth vaping which has tripled in the last three years in the past few years, with the colourful packaging and sweet flavours seen as appealing to children, and the ease at which they can get their hands on these single-use kits causing alarm. The latest figures from ASH show that there has been a nearly twofold rise in the number of children using vapes in the past two years, with 69% of 11-17 year olds who vape saying that they use disposables(4).

Five million disposable vapes are thrown away every week, four times as much as in 2022,(5) and the environmental impact is the second main concern for the government's ban. They can be recycled but only 17% of vapers report recycling theirs, and according to Greenpeace, over 40 tonnes of lithium disposable batteries were thrown away in 2023, which is enough to power 5,000 electric cars.(6)

Whilst the waste produced by disposables is high, the actual volume of lithium pales in comparison when compared to the 16.5 million electric vehicles already in the UK. According to a report by Science Direct, up to 95% of all lithium-ion batteries globally end up in landfill as they are too expensive to recycle - this gives the scale of the waste produced by disposables more perspective.(7) Additionally, the existing glut of illicit market single-use vapes needs to be addressed before a total ban can be argued as likely to have any positive impact on the environment.

3. When will the UK ban disposable vapes?

Disposable vapes will be banned on 1st April 2025. The Tobacco and Vapes Bill, backed by the Conservative and Labour parties, is expected to be passed into law towards the end of 2024, and implemented by early 2025.(8)

There will be a 6 month grace period for the industry and retailers to phase out disposables and adopt all the regulations set in place, so the average estimate for when disposables will no longer be on the shelves is about the middle of 2025.(9)

Aside from banning and increasing costs, the government has yet to formulate a decisive plan to address the challenges posed by the existing black market, which is sure to benefit greatly from a ban on legitimate devices. To seriously tackle youth access to these devices, the enforcement agencies will need far more than just financial support in their role of cracking down on the corrupt vendors who allow children to purchase their disposable vapes.

4. Are vape flavours being banned?

Flavour bans are already in place in several countries around the globe and in the UK, ministers are currently debating whether or not to institute similar restrictions, banning sweet flavours such as dessert and candies, leaving only limited fruits, tobacco and menthol options. The argument for the flavour ban is their appeal among teenagers, with their similarities to well-known sweet shop candies seen as tempting to a younger demographic.  

However there is a strong argument that vape flavours play an important role in helping smokers to make the switch. Our recent survey results showed that 1 in 3 (29%) vapers said they would go back to smoking if the government banned sweet e-liquid flavours. While 15% would turn to the black market to get their flavours, already highlighting the potential shift towards unsafe products if the legtitmate vaping industry is restricted.

An image showing a ban on sweet flavoured vapes

Flavours make the transition from smoking more appealing to adults. According to ASH, over 50% of adult vapers prefer fruit or sweet-flavoured e-liquids. There is a risk that consumers may return to smoking if a flavour ban comes into place. Consumers could also be pushed to purchase dangerous and unregulated flavoured e-liquids from the black market which would then have a monopoly over flavoured e-liquids.

A survey showing responses to the governments proposed ban on vape flavours

5. Will vape packaging change?

Brightly coloured packaging on vape liquids reminiscent of sweets and desserts has been criticised for enticing children to vape. The government is discussing plans to tone down the packaging on all flavoured vape products to reduce their appeal to minors. There will also be restrictions on how retailers can display their vaping products with suggestions that vapes could be treated similarly to cigarettes where they are kept out of sight of children and separated from sweets and other products that appeal to children.

6. Are refillable vapes being banned?

In England, the government, in consultation with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS, have actively promoted vaping as a successful method for smoking cessation. Working with the NHS they have rolled out a 'Swap to Stop' scheme, providing up to 1 million smokers with a vape starter kit and counselling to help them get off cigarettes, these kits will undoubtedly be refillable devices. So while disposables may be on the way out, vaping is still very much seen by the government and medical profession as an effective method for quitting smoking.

7. What can I vape instead of a disposable?

Disposable vapes are not the be all and end all of of vaping. There are a wide array of vaping options available with kits that are so similar to disposables that users will hardly notice the difference. Modern reusable vape kits have had to compete with disposables for the past 4 years and this has driven designs that are as effortless and hassle free as possible.

Prefilled Pod Kits

An incremental step up from disposable vapes, prefilled pod kits provide a like for like experience that is also up to 20% cheaper. They use prefilled closed pods that can be replaced and kits that can be recharged. Many of the leading disposable brands have prefilled versions of their disposable vapes making the transition virtually seamless and they are an ideal solution for ardent fans of disposables. Prefilled pod kits are also a user-friendly option for anyone with accessibility issues such as arthritis as they put minimal strain on the hands.

Remove the seals from your prefilled pod
Insert the pod into the device
Draw on the mouthpiece to activate the kit

Refillable Pod Kits

Refillable pod kits are the most cost effective way to vape, the average rechargeable kit costs under £20, which is a one-off purchase. A 10ml bottle of e-liquid costs £3-£4 per bottle and delivers up to 3000 puffs, whereas a single disposable only nets the user up to 600 puffs and costs around £5 per device. The kits use pods or coils that will need to be replaced roughly once a week. Refilling the pods with e-liquid and replacing the coils forms the maintenance aspect of the refillable vape design that may be off putting to anyone used to the convenience of single use devices. However, modern refillable vape kits feature designs with effortless functionality and a host of other quality of life benefits that make the transition very worthwhile in the long run.

Fill the pod with e-liquid
Insert the pod into the device
Draw on the mouthpiece to activate the kit

The Benefits of Refillable Pod Kits

  • 35% cheaper than disposable vapes.
  • 70% cheaper than cigarettes.
  • Minimal setup.
  • Eco-friendly.
  • More flavour options.
  • Can reduce nicotine strength.

8. Will the ban be effective in reducing youth vaping?

Youth vaping is the driving force behind the debate on the disposable vapes ban, with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health citing their concern for the increase in young people taking up vaping and its long-term health implications. TPD-compliant vape retailers are legally bound to carry out online age verification and carry out 'Challenge 25' age checks in face-to-face sales and can face a fine of up to £2,500 if caught selling to minors. The blind spot is the swath of unregulated online and corner shop retailers trading illegal devices, who need to come under regulation.

Ben Keirle, CEO of 1account Age Verification, says, 'Youth Access Prevention appears to have the majority of its problems on the high street. With so many different retailer types, particularly disposables, which can be bought anywhere from a newsagent to a fishing tackle shop and everything in between, the potential for harm in this area is large, and the enforcement is difficult and expensive.'

"'Youth Access Prevention appears to have the majority of its problems on the high street. With so many different retailer types, disposables can be bought anywhere... the potential for harm in this area is large, and the enforcement is difficult and expensive.'"

'Online age and identity verification is not new. Both the gambling and financial services sectors have been obligated to conduct checks for a lot longer than the e-commerce sector,' Keirle said. Age Verification companies like 1account argue that it is easier to protect online consumers with 'plugins' that can be implemented in nearly every eCommerce platform to prevent underage purchasing. 'It's impossible to say the same about on the high street', says Keirle, 'and it'd seem rather punitive to a thriving online industry to ban the sale of any product that wasn't making its way into the hands of minors where the sites are (most of them) implementing a real online age verification product.'

"Online age and identity verification is not new. It is easier to protect online consumers in nearly every eCommerce platform to prevent underage purchasing. It's impossible to say the same about the high street'"

The organisation Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) has also issued caution over banning single use vapes. Their research shows that most children who use these devices obtain them from unregulated high street retailers and that a ban will be a boon to the black market.(10) Instead, they support an increase in tax on disposable vapes, making them less affordable and less attractive to minors. ASH also supports giving greater powers to Trading Standards authorities to enforce age of sale regulations in face-to-face sales.

9. The economic implications of the disposable vape ban

As of 2022, the vaping industry in the UK is worth £1.2bn with disposable vapes making up £973 million of all vape sales. A ban on disposable vapes would lead to revenue losses for the entire vape industry chain, from manufacturers and distributors to retailers. The knock-on effect could lead to downsizing and job losses as well as a huge reduction in tax revenue.(11)

Access to beginner-friendly disposable vapes has formed a doorway allowing smokers to make the switch. According to a recent report by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), encouraging smokers to move to vaping would prove a positive step towards reducing the economic burden of smoking, whereas a ban could only do the opposite. They also stated that 11-15-year-olds are twice as likely to drink alcohol regularly than they are to vape, whilst noting the number of children who smoke cigarettes has fallen from 10-20% to 2-5% since 2012.(12)

A ban does not address the sale of illicit disposable vapes to minors, which is already a prolific industry, but it does threaten to send vapers back to smoking. This could cause an increased strain on the economy and health services, threaten jobs and almost certainly guarantee an increase in the funding required to get to grips with the black market which will be fuelled by a ban on disposables.

10. The role of the vaping industry in the disposable vape ban proposal

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has called for the need for tougher regulation on the sale of vaping products to children. They highlight research by Arcus Compliance which revealed that just over £2000 worth of fines were handed out to retailers for underage and illicit product sales in three years leading up to 2023.(13) They have proposed that the government increase the fines to £10,000 per offence, as well as an introduction of robust retail licensing and a national test purchasing scheme.

Acknowledging the role in packaging and product descriptions, UKVIA encouraged limiting references that appeal to children, whilst promoting clear standards for package labelling and flavour names. The biggest challenge, they say, is providing a practical way for consumers to easily recycle their used devices. They cited a recent study by Waste Experts which found that up to 99% of plastic and aluminium single-use vape devices were recyclable or recoverable.(14)

There is also a shift in manufacturer outlook, with several disposable makers reducing the quantity of plastic and metal in their units. Slix for example, uses a shell made of cardboard and biodegradable silicone, whilst VEEV provides a recycling returns programme for its devices.

11. How will the government tackle the black market and enforce the new legislation?

The government's failure to seriously address the root cause of underage vaping is reflected in meaningless on-the-spot £100 fines and maximum £2500 penalties for shops in England and Wales that sell tobacco or vapes to children. The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) argues that this is not an effective deterrent when compared to the potential profits from selling illicit products and underage selling. Repeat suggestions for £10,000 fines and an industry-led licensing scheme that would enable rogue traders to be held to account have been routinely ignored by the government.

The promise of £30 million a year to tackle illicit and underage trading, sounds like a lot but when you consider that it has to be split between three enforcement agencies; HMRC, Trading Standards and Border Force covering the entire supply chain, from border patrol and all 372 administrative divisions and borough agencies, it barely amounts to £80,000 per district - enough for perhaps two additional enforcement officers. It gives the impression of a lack of real commitment from the government to address the root cause of underage selling.

12. How will the disposable vape ban affect adult vapers in the UK?

Disposable vapes have been extremely successful at encouraging smokers to try vaping. During a recent survey of our customer base at Vape Superstore, 81% of the 1,136 respondents said that they no longer use tobacco thanks to vaping and 66% of them listed disposable vapes as their primary device. Whilst 35% said that they would switch to reusable vape kits when the ban was implanted, 14% said that they would return to smoking and 6.9% admitted that they would continue buying disposables on the black market.

Vaping has been a tremendous success story that has seen 2.7 million smokers give up tobacco with the number of adult smokers switching to vaping continuing to grow. According to ASH, disposable vapes account for 31% of the types of vapes used in 2023, a huge increase from 2.3% in 2021.(14)

The government claims that under their Swap to Stop scheme almost one in five of all adult smokers in England will have access to a reusable vape kit. Encouraging the shift to refillable vapes can ensure that consumers don't return to smoking as well as helping to mitigate the widespread negative economic effects. Reusable vape kits are far more economical and less wasteful and they are just as easy to use.

Survey data showing consumer reaction to a government ban on disposable vapes.

The government claims that under their Swap to Stop scheme almost one in five of all adult smokers in England will have access to a reusable vape kit. Encouraging the shift to refillable vapes can ensure that consumers don't return to smoking as well as helping to mitigate the widespread negative economic effects. Reusable vape kits are far more economical and less wasteful and they are just as easy to use.

13. Conclusion

Whilst the ban of disposable vapes is seen as a welcome move to protect children's health, it is also not the death knell for vaping that many people may assume. On the contrary, the abundance and variety of vape kits available can easily fill the void left by the end of single use vapes. Reusable vape kits are far more economical and less wasteful and they are just as easy to use and it is vital to promote and encourage the shift to refillable vapes which can ensure that consumers don't return to smoking.

The staggering abundance and accessibility of black market vapes illustrate how corner shop retailers are freely importing disposable vapes that, legitimate or not, fall outside of the TPD regulations. It is currently illegal to sell disposable vapes to underage users, yet there has been a steady increase in the uptake of children using these devices. The government needs to show that it can enforce the existing regulations in the current black market crisis before the wholesale ban on disposable vapes compounds the proliferation and illicit trade of these devices and increases the strain on enforcement agencies.

When the ban is enforced, then the promotion of refillable vape devices, which closely replicate disposable vapes, will be vital to mitigating the widespread negative economic effects that shutting down this nearly £1bn economy would incur. Increasing the cost of disposable vapes could potentially make them unaffordable to minors, and empowering smokers with the knowledge that reusable vape kits are cheaper and just as easy to use, could help turn the tide against disposables altogether.


(1) Government Consultation Outcome -

(2) Youth Vaping: call for evidence -

(3,5) Number of disposable single-use vapes thrown away have in a year quadrupled to 5 million per week -

(4) Use of vapes among young people GB 2023 -

(6) Are disposable vapes bad for the environment? -

(7) Disposable vape ban could cost lives, says new IEA paper -

(8) Disposable vapes to be banned for children's health, government says -

(9) Disposable vape ban to be introduced within a year -

(10) ASH response to 'Councils call for ban of disposable vapes' -

(11) Expanding category – The vape market is expected to reach £1.4bn in the next three years -

(12) A Vapid Solution: Why banning disposable e-cigarettes would be a failure of law-enforcement -

(13) Statement from UK Vaping Industry Association re: reported government consultation on disposable vapes -

(14) Waste Experts’ study demonstrates high recyclability of disposable vapes -

(15) Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among young people in Great Britain - contains general information about vaping and vapour products. The information provided is not medical advice, and should not be relied upon unless explicitly cited. We do not make any warranties surrounding the health benefits, reliability and accuracy of written copy across all pages on our website, including blog content and content posted on social media.

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Author Image: David Phillips
About the Author: David Phillips
David Phillips is the lead content writer at Vape Superstore, with a decade of involvement in the vaping industry. Armed with a journalism diploma, he has spent the past ten years exploring the world of vaping. David has a hands-on research approach and is committed to delivering fact-based content that is useful to readers. As a former smoker, he has personally experienced the advantages that switching to vaping has to offer, not only for well-being but also for cost savings. David is enthusiastic about raising awareness about vaping’s benefits and helping people make the switch away from tobacco.


After 50 years of smoking and many attempts to give up I tried vaping. I found a flavour I enjoyed and three weeks later I had my last cigarette. I have not had one since – that was 12 years ago! I still enjoy vaping but now it’s with no nicotine. I mix my own liquid for a refillable tank. I don’t think the industry makes enough of the fact that you can reduce the nicotine content over time which will make it non-addictive. You could even sell zero nicotine liquid/ devices for people like me. I could now give up vaping but there is something in me that enjoys the “habit”. The Government MUST NOT interfere with the vape industry too much. Most of the problems are with already illegal devices or liquids. A further change in the law will not stop already illegal sales.

David G Smith

I’m a vaper. I use a rechargeable e liquid device. I think it’s wrong the government think they have the right to take away people’s freedom of choice. It’s up to each individual if they wish to vape or not & I’m fed up of those who don’t like/agree with it thinking they have the right to choose for everyone else to ban it. They wouldn’t like there freedom of choice taken away. I agree more should b done to stop children the only problem is that in alot of cases it’s the parents buying vapes for there children to either have themselves or sell on to others. It’s this that needs some how to be stopped


I agree with the other comment. I have recently persuaded my 73 year old dad to try the disposable ones after a massive stroke, with the aim for him to reduce then eventually quit smoking. He did try a refillable one but preferred the convenience and lack of faff with single use

Melanie Hodges

For those with hand disability, arthritis of the hands etc. disposable vapes are necessary, as they don’t require any strain on the hands or fingers


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