By Taylor Green
The banning of disposable vapes makes you wonder about the extent governments can go to ensure prolonging individual health. Should individuals be able to kill themselves as long as they consent to the consumption of a widely available vice? There’s only so far that logic extends. Some products are legally unavailable and criminalised for possession. But products that have a degenerative rather than an immediate negative effect on the health of someone, are a different kettle of fish. It’s a complicated argument and has long stemmed from the genesis of the ideas of government’s role in shaping and proliferating life. It’s a concept so ingrained in our society. You tend not to think it could have been any other way.
Although it’s not quite a ban on vaping, more amendments to their wide availability, and specifically a ban on those disposables that are cheaply made, harmful, and accessed primarily by younger people. The legislation insists on attempts at cracking down harder on vendors that discreetly sell such devices to children.
The billowing clouds of smoke that mingle through some key high streets may be no longer with this strict ban on the sale of vapes. Vape sales have rocketed in the last year. This legislation acts as a net benefit for the health of children as a result. Cracking down by issuing fines, more regularly at quicker £100 fixed penalty fines. That is easier and quicker to dish out. Disposable vapes are a particular issue as they are the easiest to access for children, with 69% of children 11-17 taking up the habit through this form.
Only adults can rationally understand and weigh up the benefits and cons of vaping. The legislation is a welcome idea from the Conservative Party. One that tackles a very prominent issue amongst young people, contemporarily.
Despite my enthusiasm for this policy, local authorities are underfunded. Those expected to dish out these deterrents, ensure that this policy won’t be put into effect efficiently. As councils nationally face a shortfall in cash amounting to £3.5 bn. This ensures that jobs are lost and many conciliary services face huge spending cuts. These services rely on greater funding. This policy is only making us forget how mangled the local council system has been from this consistent underfunding that has persisted for the last 10 years. How can we know for sure they even have the resources to implement these laws with any efficacy?
Nonetheless, the aim of this policy, in theory, to make it harder to get a hold of such items of interest that cause such grave harm to the health of children is positive. This is a most prescient and necessary standard to set, as the state is sought to be the body that proliferates and improves the lives of individuals. This shouldn’t impose upon the freedoms of those, but having these products readily available to children is something that should never have been legitimated as standard practice.
The measures they’re suggesting are sensible if they can be implemented. Reducing the appeals to children. For example, colour changes, changes in packaging, and ensuring that vapes are out of reach in shops - in the same way cigarettes are.
The one point in the legislation I take issue with is the point on the legal age of smoking. This isn’t quite a sustainable step, as they seek to raise the “legal age of sale”, which is 15, every year. This ensures that adults, in 3 years, cannot make their own choice to smoke. There is a point where the legislation is a little overreaching. These ties in the legislation impose outright control over individuals' choice of vice. While smoking is not generally a good thing for one’s health, many products cause harm. It is up to the individual to choose, especially if individuals can still function, using a given product.
If we take this logic to its conclusion, could the state legislate a nationwide ban on degenerative beverages such as Cola? Just because it causes many more to become diabetic, and then as a result must seek treatment and burden the NHS. There is surely a link between such drinks and an increased likelihood of developing diabetes.
Legislation is a cruel mistress, and wholesale bans are never going to be taken well. We can always encourage those to seek alternatives, programmes in schools, or the dreaded sugar tax, another excuse to bump up prices in stores. But it does the job of keeping those away from sugary drinks. When you see the eye watering price of some in restaurants, you’re probably better off with tap water. These products shouldn’t be outright banned, even if it will be a very slow, organic ban - it should rather be discouraged more than anything.
The serious health concerns surrounding disposable vapes highlighted are through allowing the user to smoke the same amount of nicotine as roughly 20 cigarettes, at half the price. Inhalation of harmful metals in cheaply made products. Children simply can’t consent to such harm. Better regulation of such products is a must. But the act of vaping is already harmful enough, and these are habits that we don’t want to pass down to the next generation that saw the last few hooked on cigarettes. While the effects of vaping weren’t so clear when these products emerged on the market – in every corner shop. Only years later do we have a clearer idea of the actual damage it causes.
The NHS also might seem like it’s not affected but it’s the immediate uptake of these products, and how recently popular they’ve become that suggests only the future can tell. If we start to have a flooding of necessary medical procedures that, once again, overburden a system that is already fractionalised, underfunded, and understaffed. Allowing easy access to these brightly coloured sticks that rob you of the certainty that in the future you have mitigated possibilities of you developing lung problems, might be problematic. Taking on that risk should not be the purview of a young person. This was a necessary policy, one that is surely justified. But at the same time, it is an electorally-minded attention-grabbing policy. While the primary issues in this country remain unsorted, this piece of legislation is simple but effective, and extremely necessary in principle.