As the start of the next state legislative session nears, a ban on disposable e-cigarettes could be on legislators’ agenda.
Disposable e-cigarettes are small, battery-powered devices that deliver vaporized nicotine with various flavorings. While they do not contain tobacco, many include nicotine and aren’t designed to be refilled or recharged. Their small, non-rechargeable lithium batteries often end up in landfills – which is one of the sticking points raised in the recently introduced New York legislation.
State Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, D-Bronx, has introduced legislation (S.7771) to ban the disposable e-cigarettes. The French government has begun discussing a similar national ban, according to the Associated Press, over concerns that plastic e-cigarettes can explode, that it is illegal to dispose of lithium ion batteries that fuel the disposable e-cigarettes and the fire risk posed by the batteries.
“The proliferation of e-cigarettes is damaging to public health and is extremely harmful to our environment. With countless rechargeable devices on the market, there is no need to further pollute the environment with disposable products,” Fernandez wrote in her legislative justification.
The Bronx Democrat cited a 2017 report from the U.S. Fire Administration that documented nearly 200 e-cigarette explosions that occurred between 2009 and 2016 as well as a 2022 The 2022 Youth Tobacco Survey that found disposable vapes remain most popular among youth and 85% of those who use e-cigarettes use flavored products.
“As their use expands, so does the vape waste that is generated,” Fernandez wrote. “The plastic devices, which will never completely biodegrade, are washing up on beaches around the world and littering public spaces. A July 2023 report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund estimated that 4.5 disposable vapes are discarded every second in the United States.”
The French parliament is considering a ban on the single-use, disposable electronic cigarettes, with the ban possibly taking effect by September 2024.
Marion Catellin, president of the Alliance Against Tobacco, told The Associated Press that “single-use e-cigarettes are made of plastic. They contain a lithium battery and other heavy metals including cobalt and bromine. And these pods contain nicotine which is a highly toxic product … On the basis of its environmental impact alone, these single-use e-cigarettes puffs warrant a ban.”
The UK, Ireland, and Germany are considering similar measures. New Zealand and Australia have already implemented restrictions. New Zealand’s measures include mandating lower nicotine levels and restrictions on vape shop locations near schools.
The surge in disposable e-cigarettes in the U.S. market, primarily from China, followed the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 2020 ban on flavored reusable e-cigarettes like Juul. The flavor restrictions didn’t apply to disposable products, which proliferated in the wake of the regulation.