I’m old enough to remember when blowouts were much more common than nowadays so I was a pleased I remembered how to independently change my wheel by the roadside – proof independence is always better than dependence.
Curious as to why my otherwise healthy tyre had given up the ghost prematurely, I carefully examined all surfaces to find a metallic object had punctured the middle of the tyre’s running surface, annoyingly through the many millimetres of tread still left to go. Arriving home I removed the offending item to discover it was a canister from a disposable vape, clearly driven over many times and now shorn of its plastic casing, heating element, lithium-ion battery and the scarce minerals contained therein which presumably are now contaminating our beautiful Angus environment somewhere.
To be blunt, disposable vapes are a real worry. I am not overly concerned about vaping in general. Indeed, I remember, while serving on the Board of NHS Tayside, speaking up for the technology when still quite novel as a positive method of quitting smoking. What is really concerning is that these products seems to have morphed into a vice all of their own and worse still, they are now despicably marketed toward children in disposable form with bright plastic colours and juvenile flavours.
Quite apart from the inadequate research into the long-term consequences of vaping on young and developing lungs or oral health, and the disastrous consequences of these electronic devices contaminating our environment – there is a substantial opportunity cost to this questionable trade too.
The lithium contained in disposable vape batteries amounts to 10 tonnes each year, enough for 1200 electric car batteries. Also, 1.3 million are thrown away each week in the UK with only 30% recycled, contributing to the approximately 250 fires per year at waste facilities triggered by lithium-ion batteries. So, as I see it, disposable vapes are a manifest risk to young people’s health, to our environment and, sadly, to perfectly good car tyres.