High-end retailer Waitrose was accused of chasing ‘cheap headlines’ after it became the first UK supermarket to delist disposable vapes from its stores.
The leading chain cited public health and environmental concerns as motivation for the ban, saying it ‘couldn’t justify’ stocking the controversial smoking alternatives.
It also pointed to the alleged ‘popularity’ of disposables amongst non-smokers as further reason to keep them off the shelves.
In a statement announcing the move, Waitrose commercial director Charlotte Di Cello said the brand was ‘driven by doing the right thing’.
“Selling single-use vapes is not something we could justify given the impact on both the environment and the health of young people.
“We had already decided it wasn’t right to stock the fashionable bright-coloured devices which are seeing massive growth.
“This is the final jigsaw piece in our clear decision not to be part of the single-use vaping market.”
While the disposable ban has earned the support of anti-vapers, green warriors and some members of the harm reduction community, others have labelled it an exercise in ‘hypocrisy’.
Critics highlighted that the supermarket chain still openly sells deadly cigarettes, which are not only one of the biggest killers in the world but are also one of the most littered products on the planet.
Neil McLaren of Vaping.com said Waitrose should ‘stop carping on about vapes’ and turn its attention to their tobacco-laden counterparts instead.
“The virtue signalling move reeks of hypocrisy…if they stop selling cigarettes, they can make a real difference to public health and the planet.
“ But if all they want is cheap headlines, then woke commentary from the PR department seems to do the job ”
“If all they want is cheap headlines, then woke commentary from the PR department seems to do the job.”
In the wake of Waitrose’s ban, the vape community made it clear that it was aware of growing ecoconcerns and was taking active steps to address them.
John Dunne of the UK Vaping Industry Association seemed to be at the forefront of this greenthinking effort, saying he is working to find a solution that is ‘fit for purpose’.
The UKVIA director general said:
“The industry recognises its responsibilities to the environment, but the recycling of vapes is not straightforward.
“It needs collaboration between adult users, retailers, manufacturers, regulators and companies in the waste management sector.”
Dunne stressed that, by overcoming this challenge and minimising the impact of vapes, they can be seen as a force for good… instead of as a scourge on the planet.
He added that he was in talks with various governmental bodies about the issue and was calling on the industry to innovate more easily recyclable products.