More students vape than smoke as they become a “growing E-waste stream”

Muiris O'Cearbhaill

Students may notice that stores, including Londis on DCU Glasnevin Campus, have begun to display disposable e-cigarettes behind their counters. The popularity these devices have risen since the beginning of this academic year.

The College View conducted a survey with students to gain a better understanding of how many students frequently use e-cigarettes*. The College View found that just under 10% more students use e-cigarettes than smoke traditional cigarettes.

The majority (37%) of e-cigarette users stated that they vape “a few times a month” however, a third of them stated they use the devices every day. 

When asked why they would purchase a disposable e-cigarette over a reusable one, under a third (32.5%) of respondents stated that the taste was better while 17% of respondents claimed the cost was more appealing to them.

Over a third of students surveyed said they have purchased a disposable e-cigarette for personal use, over half of that group stated they purchase them “once a month”. 

One respondent said, “Easier to purchase, appealing flavours, feels better than smoking cigarettes and cost,” were the reasons behind their purchase. Another respondent simply stated, “They’re nice, innit.”

Only one response made reference to the popularity of these devices. While their popularity is rising, they are still subject to criticism.

One student told The College View, “I don’t use one. But I work in a shop and people constantly ask for them even though we don’t sell them. What I find hilarious is that in such an environmentally conscious time, people are hockeying the things down. No wonder we have a pandemic!”

Only six respondents stated health reasons, including to quit smoking, as the reason they used the devices. 

Disposable e-cigarettes contain lithium-ion batteries which help to heat the coils and power the lights in the device. The College View spoke to WEEE Ireland, the main representative for the Irish battery industry, about how to properly dispose of the devices.

WEEE stated that its “extremely difficult” to remove the batteries from the devices that are disposed of through their battery disposal programme. 

WEEE said, “…along with many other small devices, [e-cigarettes] are very often disposed of in the general waste or are kept in a drawer or hoarded.” WEEE states that e-cigarettes are “growing E-waste stream,”.

WEEE suggested that this problem could be solved through manufacturers providing their own take-back programmes, however acknowledged the difficulty of such a plan as the devices are usually sold through general retailers.

Muiris O’Cearbhaill

Image Credit: Shutterstock

*Survey was conducted anonymously, with 110 responses. It was circulated on relevant social media platforms, including The College View’s Instagram page.