Let’s talk about disposable vapes!

By Stephen Byrne

In October of 2022, Minister of State Ossian Smyth spoke on RTE’s Morning Ireland program and declared that disposable vapes are “making the world a worse place”1. And we couldn't agree more! This is no minor issue. In Ireland, an estimated 12.5 million vapes were sold in 2022*. Yes, you read that correctly! In fact, that is enough disposable vapes to line the distance from Belfast to Cork three times!**


This World No Tobacco Day, on May 31st, VOICE wants to make a difference by gathering as much support as possible to ban disposable vapes. Together with the support of key health, youth, and environmental organizations including, the Irish Heart Foundation, An Taisce and the Galway City Community Network, and many others we have written an open letter to Ministers Ossian Smyth and Stephen Donnelly supporting a ban on disposable vapes.

But we need your help, we need you to sign and share our petition and join the movement to #bandisposablevapes.

We're not here to debate whether vapes are effective at helping people stop traditional smoking. We are 100% focused on disposable vapes and we have three major reasons for this, let’s take a look...

  1. Public Health Concerns:

Have you heard about the 'triple mango' flavoured disposable vape? To us, that sounds more like a bubble gum flavour than an adult nicotine product. And the news isn’t so sweet as disposable vapes are creating a new generation of young people that are addicted to nicotine and perhaps cigarettes. The availability of tasty and exotic flavours in disposable vapes is particularly attractive to young, never-smokers.

Experts are increasingly aware that vaping may act as a gateway to smoking 2. Currently, Minister of Health, Stephen Donnelly is aiming to prohibit the sale of vape products to those under 18 as part of the Public Health (Tobacco and Nicotine Inhaling Products) Bill 2019. This is a much-needed step, and we support the Minister in his actions as exposure to nicotine has been shown to affect healthy brain development in adolescents3. Overall, we believe these risks are simply not worth the convenience of a single-use product. So, let's say bye-bye to disposable vapes!  

  1. Environmental Concerns:

Disposable vapes are not only harmful to human health but also to our environment. These single-use smoking products contain plastic, lithium batteries, and flavoring chemicals. Waste batteries contain dangerous materials such as mercury and cadmium. One EPA representative told us that “if these materials get into the air or water, they can cause serious damage to the environment and to human health” ***


By law, retailers of WEEE products must offer take-back services so consumers can responsibly dispose of their electronic goods. They must also host signage advertising these take-back services. We are concerned that disposable vape retailers are not following the rules. As an experiment, a number of VOICE employees purchased disposable vapes from different stores. None of us were advised to bring our old vapes back to the store. In fact, one retail employee remarked “sure just chuck it in the bin!” Even if these take-back services were being followed, recycling disposable vapes is still a highly difficult and labor-intensive process as each unit must be dismantled by hand 4.  

We do not want to see disposable vapes follow in the footsteps of cigarette butts, as a common form of litter in our streets, but unfortunately, we are seeing this more and more. Cigarette butts were listed in the 2019 EU Single-Use Plastic Directive as one of the top 10 most common single-use items found in marine litter.5 The directive aims to ban such items, however, at the time disposable vapes did not make the list. It seems that many people still see cigarette butts as a socially acceptable form of litter. We don't want disposable vapes to follow suit. Let's not make the environment pay the price for our convenience!

  1. Waste of Valuable Resources:

We share Minister Smyth's concerns about the wasteful use of valuable resources, such as lithium and copper, in disposable vapes. These materials are critical for building a greener economy and should not be wasted on a product that is designed to be used only once. Did you know that each disposable vape contains 0.15g of lithium, a raw material that has been classified as 'critical' by the Irish government and the EU? An estimated 90 tons of lithium and 1,600 tons of copper were used for the global production of disposable vapes in 2022. To put this into perspective, this amount of lithium is equivalent to the amount needed to produce 11,000 electric vehicles and is enough copper for 1.6 million electric vehicle charger units6. We all know the shift to more renewable energy is key if we are to meet our emission and climatic goals.

So, let’s hit the brakes on vapes and put our resources to better use.  

In conclusion, disposable vapes may seem convenient, but they're causing more harm than good. So, let's support Minister Smyth's efforts to ban them and make a difference to our country's public health and environment.  

Sign our petition and share it with your friends and family!  Together, we can put an end to this harmful product, and who knows, maybe we can finally stop seeing those cringe-worthy vape TikToks on our feeds!!!