Walking down the street and passing through clouds of watermelon, bubblegum and even custard flavoured vapour has become pretty commonplace over the last couple of years, thanks to the spike in popularity of single-use e-cigarettes.
The sickly sweet-smelling haze might soon become a thing of the past in one European country, though, as a ban on ‘vapes’, ‘puffs’, ‘tonks’ – whatever you want to call them – has just been passed.
Parliament in France unanimously voted this week to prohibit the use of single-use e-cigarettes in a bill which could be implemented as soon as September next year.
It’ll still be subject to approval from France’s Senate and the EU Commission, but due to the extensive health and environmental concerns, plus the enthusiasm from Parliamentarians, it’s looking pretty likely.
Just last week it was announced that France had big plans for banning smoking in a tonne of public spaces across the country, and for increasing the price of cigarettes. The ban on e-cigs looks to be even more vapour-tight, though.
Vapes, or ‘puffs’ as they’re known in France, cost around €9 (£7.70, $9.70), which is cheaper than a pack of 20 cigarettes. The price, plus the use of bright colours and confectionery-inspired flavours have led campaigners to accuse manufacturers of targeting young people.
Alliance Against Tobacco said that 15 percent of French 13 to 16-year-olds have ‘puffed’ at least once, most claiming they tried it as young as 11 or 12. While vaping is considered less damaging than smoking, it hasn’t really been around long enough for us to know the long-term impacts.
And human health isn’t the only concern – according to the BBC, a group of French doctors who wrote to Le Monde earlier in 2023 described their use as ‘an environmental plague.’
Material Focus, an environmental organisation in the UK, found that more than one million devices get binned each week. One million. Plus, e-cigs are made from plastic and contain lithium batteries, as well as traces of heavy metals.
New Zealand and Australia have already implemented restrictions, such as lower nicotine levels and restrictions on shop locations near schools. Across Europe, other places including the UK, Ireland and Germany are all considering similar bans.
Could this be the end of an era for those vibrant, nauseatingly pungent little buggars? For the sake of the environment at least, let’s hope so!
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