The disposable vaping craze has raised a number of concerns amongst the general public, government and healthcare officials alike. The devices’ rapid rise to astonishing popularity has left the vaping industry spinning as retailers race to meet demand, and Trading Standards scramble to keep on top of regulation.
We have already seen a significant number of disposable vaping devices and related stock seized amidst ongoing raids carried out across the UK by trading standards agents, including Glasgow, Lancashire, Sussex, and Bournemouth.
The crackdown has targeted a number of issues ranging from illegal and unregistered stock to underage sale. Staggering demand for the devices has created a frantic market with retailers desperate to keep well stocked of the hottest selling brands, and some choosing to stock them despite never carrying vaping products before.
This has created opportunities for less reputable suppliers who have taken advantage of retailers’ lack of product knowledge, leaving trading standards to pick up the pieces and seize examples which exceed legal nicotine and e-liquid capacity levels, while not carrying the correct symbols and warnings on packaging.
Underage sale of vaping products has been an often-reported issue for the industry, and the disposables trend has added fuel to this fire. While purchasing online from platforms like our own EDGE website have greater controls. Smaller, local retailers and market stalls in particular have been the subject of multiple reports citing repeat underage sales of disposable vapes to minors. An issue identified as stemming from the popularity of the devices as a social ‘must-have’ amongst youngsters, thanks largely to the exciting flavours and bright, colourful designs shared by almost all disposable brands.
Dr Warns Consumers about the Dangers of Disposable Vapes
Earlier this year as reported by Cosmopolitan, popular TikTok Doctor, Onkar Mudhar has released a video highlighting his concerns over the health implications of using disposable vaping devices. He shared the video with his audience of over 22,000 viewers and beyond, with it already receiving in excess of 55,000 likes.
Safety concerns around vaping are not a new challenge for the industry, however the influx of disposables has created some unique issues that Dr Mudhar has brought to the public’s attention, calling out leading disposable brands Elf and Geek bar in particular.
While the issues faced are not unique to these brands, their particular grip on the UK’s disposable market has led to them becoming the flagship names whenever the devices are mentioned – with more people commonly referring to them as “Geek” or “Elf” bars than “disposable vapes” regardless of their true branding.
Geek bar in particular has seen significant exposure, not only because of their popularity as the first ‘breakout’ disposable brand, but also because it is Geek Bar’s non-compliant “pro” model making headlines due to containing as much as 50mg of nicotine salts, and holding more than the legal 2ml e-liquid limit, while carrying none of the required warnings and symbols that would highlight this to a potential buyer.
How Many Cigarettes Does a Geek or Elf Bar Equal?
One of the sternest warnings Dr Mudhar has given about disposable vapes focusses on their nicotine content. He states that the 20mg nicotine salt used in the majority of disposable devices, is equivalent in dose to around 48 to 50 cigarettes.
Given that all vapes deliver nicotine, this may seem a moot point. When given context however, the issue here becomes much more apparent. We must consider that even a heavy smoking habit would not see a person consume more than 40 cigarettes per day. Now factor in the fact that most people who buy a disposable device consume one either in a day, or in some cases a single night out. Many users of disposable vapes have reported their false economy in terms of the internal battery running out before the e-liquid inside has been entirely used up.
This means that in terms of nicotine absorbed, a person using disposables could consume far more than they intend. If a hypothetical consumer purchased a disposable in an attempt to quit smoking for example, they might leave behind a smoking habit of five or six cigarettes per day in favour of using a disposable vape each day. If that disposable device were to last the person two or even three days, they would still be consuming almost ten times the amount of nicotine than they previously were. When we consider that many are used up in only one day, Dr Mudhar’s concerns are well placed.
An ever-increasing body of evidence suggests that e-cigarettes could be one of the best options for people looking to quit smoking, and that vaping devices deliver the nicotine we crave without many of the harmful chemicals found in cigarette smoke. The rapid consumption of such high levels of nicotine found in disposable vapes however, counteract this positivity.
A quitter could find themselves reaching for a disposable vape as an easy off-the-shelf way to start their journey away from cigarettes, when in actuality they risk deepening their nicotine addiction to levels beyond where cigarettes had ever taken them. Every person has different needs, and one of the most vital steps to any quitting journey is ensuring you choose a product that is matched to your needs. Disposables do not offer this flexibility, they are one-shot, maximum strength, generic items.
To make matters worse, the nature of the e-liquid inside disposables actively masks just how much they deliver. It is fair to assume that if a person was vaping a maximum strength product at 20mg, they would surely feel that hit, and the experience should be quite harsh overall. The nicotine salt e-liquid used in disposables however is special, in that it has been designed to neutralise the harsh taste of nicotine. This means that you can vape a 20mg, and only experience the throat hit of, at worst, a normal 6mg e-liquid. Not to mention they plethora of additional ethical issues the devices raise, which you can read about here.
Combine this smooth hit with funky designs and a range of exotic flavours, and you have a very tempting, and potentially misleading vaping product which risks taking many potential quitters down the wrong path. With the UK’s vaping community now reaching 3.6 million people, a figure that has grown more rapidly since the disposables trend took hold, experts in Government as well as the private sector like Dr Mudhar share an increasing fear. We want a smoke free generation in the UK by 2030, but is this the right way to achieve it?
An Alternative to Disposable Vapes
If you have found yourself reading this as a patron of disposable vapes, or perhaps as someone who is considering them as their first foray into the world of vaping – please know that there are alternatives out there which may serve you far better.
Pod devices like the EDGE GO have all the convenience and travel-friendliness of a disposable, often being as compact and lightweight. With a device like this, you only need to replace the pods themselves, rather than the entire device, battery included. Some pod devices utilise refillable pods, meaning you only have to replace a coil. Either option will provide you with better economy, and poses reduced risk to the environment by creating less waste.
If it was the smooth nic salt e-liquid in the disposable that tempted you, then you have options here as well. There are hundreds of brands of compliant and reputable nic salt e-liquids available in 10ml bottles for you to try, and we also provide EDGE GO Smooth nic salt pods in some of our best selling flavours.
Not to mention, these alternative products often give you more flexibility and an ability to move down through nicotine strengths as far as 0mg, if you’re goal is to be nicotine free entirely by the end of your journey.
If you want to learn more about the differences between traditional and disposable e-cigarettes, check out our blog Rechargeable VS Disposable. If you are looking for more guidance before beginning your vaping journey, then we’d like to offer our support – head over to our switch with EDGE area to discover more.