Local authorities in England and Wales have called for disposable vapes to be banned in the UK by 2024 on environmental and health grounds.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the sale and manufacture of single-use e-cigarettes should be stopped next year in line with other European countries.
France is considering a ban by the end of 2023, with the European Union expected to follow suit in 2026.
The LGA said it is “crucial” a ban comes into force “rapidly” to stop a flood of single-use vapes into the UK market.
The organisation described disposable vapes as “a hazard” for waste collectors and said they are “almost impossible to recycle without going through special treatment”.
It also raised concern about the impact of vaping on children and young people, particularly how they are marketed with colourful designs and flavours.
David Fothergill, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Councils are not anti-vapes, which are shown to be less harmful than smoking and have a place as a tool to use in smoking cessation.
“However, disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed in their design and inherently unsustainable products, meaning an outright ban will prove more effective than attempts to recycle more vapes.
“Single-use vapes blight our streets as litter, are a hazard in our bin lorries, are expensive and difficult to deal with in our recycling centres. Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and the penalties for retailers selling them don’t go far enough.
“Councils urge the Government to take this action to protect our planet, keep children safe and save taxpayers money.”
Public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) said it could not support the call for a full ban as it would “turbo-charge” the illegal sale of e-cigarettes to children.
Deputy chief executive Hazel Cheeseman said: “Ash is sympathetic to calls by the LGA and others to ban single-use disposable e-cigarettes but the risk of unintended consequences is too great for us to support a ban.
“Children already find it easy to get hold of illegal vapes as those selling them have no qualms selling to children. Making them all illegal won’t help. The sale of illegal disposable vapes, already large and growing, will be turbo-charged if they are banned.”
She said Ash supports an excise tax on disposable vapes to make them less affordable while giving more power to those controlling their import, distribution and sale.
A Government spokesperson said: “We are concerned about the use of vaping products, particularly among young people. That is why we launched a call for evidence to examine both the environmental and health impact of vapes, and identify opportunities to reduce the number of children accessing them.
“We strongly encourage all consumers to consider the environment and dispose of electrical waste, including by making use of take back schemes at participating retailers.”
Earlier this month, the British Medical Association (BMA) voted to review the potential dangers of vaping in a bid to tackle what it described as a “growing epidemic”.
It will look at the dangers of vaping and call for plain packaging on e-cigarettes in line with tobacco and cigarettes.
Members will also push for a ban on flavoured vapes and said more should be done about products being sold to under-18s illegally.
Published: by Radio NewsHub