The Vape Debate: A £645m Shadow Market Emerges

The UK’s Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) has sounded the alarm over a potential £645m surge in the illicit trade of disposable vapes following the government’s proposed ban. This stark warning comes as the ACS urges the government to prioritize effective enforcement to mitigate the unintended consequences of the ban.

The ACS’s stance is clear: a ban on disposable vapes, set to take effect in April 2025, could inadvertently fuel a black market boom. The organization’s chief executive, James Lowman, criticizes the government’s impact assessment for underestimating the ban’s repercussions on retailers and overlooking the already sizable illicit trade.

Consumer Persistence and Potential Pitfalls

Polling suggests that nearly one in four vape users may continue to seek disposable vapes post-ban, turning to underground sources and siphoning off £645m annually from legitimate convenience stores. This consumer behavior underscores the challenge of enforcing a ban in the face of persistent demand.

The Definition Dilemma

With the ban’s deadline approaching, the ACS highlights the need for clarity on what constitutes a disposable vape. The lack of a clear definition adds to the uncertainty and complexity of enforcing the proposed legislation.

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