By Joshua Robinson –
The RSPCA has declared it a “great day for wildlife” – as reports suggest the UK Government is set to announce a ban on disposable vapes in England.
Disposable vapes and their impact on animals have been a growing concern for the charity’s officers on the frontline.
They contain materials and poisonous substances including plastic, lithium, and nicotine, all of which can be hazardous to animals.
Between 2020 and 2022, 10,482 calls about litter were made to the charity’s emergency line, which is believed vapes have contributed to the problem.
In July, the RSPCA backed calls from the Local Government Association, which represents local authorities in England and Wales, for a ban on the sale and manufacture of single-use vapes by 2024 – and is now “delighted” by this move from the UK Government.
Harriet Main, RSPCA public affairs manager, said: “Discarded disposable vapes pose a threat to the environment and animals – so this news marks a great day for wildlife right across England.”
“The infrastructure for recycling these vapes just isn’t widely available – and too many single-use vapes are simply being tossed away in our communities, putting animals needlessly at risk.”
Harriet Main added: “Animals could be in danger by ingesting liquid from discarded, disposable vapes; while strewn devices can also impact habitats. Dealing with this is positive for the environment and for animal welfare, and we look forward to working with the UK Government to ensure a ban can be introduced as soon as possible.”
New research from Material Focus suggests the number of disposable vapes being discarded each week has increased to five million – with three percent of UK vapers – including eight percent of 16-18 year olds – admitting they drop single-use vapes on the ground.
A survey from the charity – as part of its #VexedAboutVapes campaign – showed 94% of respondents supported a ban on disposable vapes.
Carrie Stones, campaigns manager for the charity, said: “Our survey found that more than 90 percent of respondents were concerned about the impact disposable vapes have on both the environment and wildlife.”
“More than seven in ten people also said they’d found discarded disposable vapes – highlighting how widespread this litter is, and the potential threat to animals. We are therefore delighted our campaign has been successful and that we’ll hopefully soon be seeing a ban implemented in England by the UK Government.”
The RSPCA is also calling on the Welsh Government to work with the UK Government to ensure any ban extends to Wales, too.
While public health and wildlife protection are devolved matters, and the Welsh Government previously tried to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed and public places, Welsh Ministers have suggested they do not have the devolved power to introduce an outright ban on disposable vapes.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government is currently consulting on a ban.
More information about the RSPCA’s #VexedAboutVapes campaign can be found online.