France is set to ban disposable vapes in an effort to combat environmental waste and potential gateway risks - but do these fears add up? Claude Bamberger joins us to discuss these latest policy changes and the reality of disposable vape use in France.
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 0:48 - France to ban disposable vapes 1:59 - Can disposable vapes be recycled in France? 3:06 - Regulators single out disposables 6:10 - Are disposables a gateway risk? 8:53 - Are black market fears realistic? 10:57 - Disposables and wider environmental issues
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Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. France is set to become yet another country to ban disposable vaping devices. In December, the French Parliament decided to ban single-use e-cigarettes, saying the decision is due to concern over health and the environment. A few days after the decision was announced, we contacted Claude Bamberger, president of the French Independent Association of Electronic Cigarette Users, to ask him a few questions. we contacted Claude Bamberger, president of the French Independent Association of Electronic Cigarette Users, to ask him a few questions. Hello Claude, thank you for joining us today. Where did the decision to ban disposable devices come from in France?
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Claude Bamberger: Historically, because this ban proposal is from the thinking of the complexity of the French system. It's from the opposition, the Green Party, which is in the Assembly, and it has been announced, proposed, since early this year. So there have been discussions, it's a normal process, all that. So basically, the Green Party began with the issue of disposable. Because it's bad to have, and we agree with that, to have things that are used once, especially in plastic, especially with a battery in it, with metals, things like that.
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Joanna Junak: Can disposable vapes be easily recycled in France?
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Claude Bamberger: In France, electronic things including vapes and batteries are recycled. We have special bins. So basically in France it's every electronic shop from a certain size has to have a bin to recycle or dispose of electronics. Most places, most companies, shops and things like that have also bins for batteries to dispose of them or to recycle them. We also have the European directive on single-user plastics that will anyway apply to disposable vapes and other things. But the idea for them was to push a special law.
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Joanna Junak: So why have disposable vapes become such a key issue for regulators?
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Claude Bamberger: So that's the strange issue, because we are not very keen on disposable vapes, but for very different reasons. We agree because it's a directive that will come in place and with good reasons to limit disposable things, especially plastics and metals and things like that. But we also consider those vapes. Yes, they are interesting for beginners. Smokers that want to try vaping with. Oh no, it's too complex, the buttons, the things like that and I plainly understand because I began with very simple vapes and i spent a year before i i was convinced to use a vape with a button. But the thing is they are expensive, they are around 10 euros. Nowadays, you can have a good pod system or a refillable pod vape, automatic vapes, for 20 euros. Of course, 20 is more than 10, but for a smoker, it's two packs of cigarettes. It would be interesting to have even less expensive ones or aids for smokers to try vaping. So for trying it's an idea but they could be recycled and reused and things like that. But basically they are not a good long-run use. Mostly smokers use them but if you buy, if you smoke, if you try to quit with 10 euros for two milliliters, it's very expensive in the long run. Even in a month it's expensive. It is used strangely. I tried to find some figures, but it seems to be more used by adults than by teens. And in the teens, it's most used, I mean, regularly used by smokers. Because we always think kids are not smoking. Well, they are. They are in France. It's going down very fast. And it's good news. Very good news.
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Joanna Junak: Do you agree with the statement that disposable e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking for young people?
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Claude Bamberger: No. Basically, it's a very strange assertion. First of all, when we say it's popular, it's not that popular. I compare to other countries, it's always very strange. France is not the UK and is not the US for many subjects, but yes, people, especially tobacconists and some general shops, sell in a way a lot of disposable vapes compared to non-before they existed. I don't think it's a huge part of the market. It begins to be a big part, but it's not huge. So if disposable vapes or vapes in general were a gateway to anything, this anything would increase or would decrease less. And it's not the case. The historical fall of smoking in teens in France, it's something we didn't see for decades. It's at the beginning of the anti-tobacco actions. Yes, it went a bit down, but it was really, really straight for years. And the last 10 years, it's going right down. And it's even, as I heard, went down even further in the last three years, because we got the figures from two years, and the next stats are arriving. So it's going down in any way, smoking, and even using disposable vapes. It's a bit going down. It's complicated because it's going up in some parts and down in others. So you don't have a gateway that put people out. It doesn't exist. So the point is really, really strange. It could be perhaps a gateway to vaping. But again, we don't see, and it is very different than other countries, we don't see a population of vapers that are not smokers or weren't smokers before.
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Joanna Junak: And do you think there will be a significant increase in black market activity when the disposable vape ban comes into force?
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Claude Bamberger: It's my crossing fingers. I hope not. If it was a reasonable amount, I would, I would put like 10 euros on each bond. The strange thing with black markets in general in France, you don't have that much in I mean, in general. So for example, There is a clear thing, and I read a lot of papers around that, and we have a good public agencies papers on that. Even for cigarettes, you don't have a lot of real black market. We have people buying in the neighboring countries, because we are the most expensive country for cigarettes in our part of Europe. I realized I could even pay the plane to Warsaw if I bought cigarettes. I didn't, but it is very strange. So we have something like 5%, perhaps 10% of the tobacco cigarettes sold from a real black market, according to statistics. And you imagine the price difference is 5 euros, it's 50%. You can gain 50% by buying black market cigarettes.
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Joanna Junak: Let's go back for a moment to the environmental issue. The government, in its statement, emphasized that disposable vapes are connected with environmental danger.
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Claude Bamberger: Is this the case? Be really careful. The law was a proposal from the Green Party. The government joined elected people from the party of the government joined, because they said, yeah, it's a good idea, let's go. It's not a clear action from the government, they just jumped on it. They said, oh yeah, it's a good idea, we protect children. We are a good government, we protect children, if you say so. We protect the environment, if you say so. The thing is, we've got the same issues with disposable plastic things. We recycle or reuse or carefully destroy most of the plastic in France. That's a bigger issue of using petrol to make plastics. Yeah, it's a very serious thing. But the disposable side is not the question.
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Joanna Junak: That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find subscriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.