Vaping: market failure or government failure?
The free market has created disposable e-cigarettes expressed with bright colours and extravagant flavours, creating an epidemic of young vapours. It could be argued businesses such as the Chinese firm “Elux” have capitalised on the government promoting e-cigarette use, rather than conventional cigarettes in order to create an extremely profitable product at the expense of a user’s health.
An individual’s private costs may include respiratory issues, which would develop into a social cost as the taxpayer would contribute financially to the treatment, provided by the NHS.
Externalities created by vapes include the disposability of the product, meaning the unrecyclable plastic is sent to landfill sites, creating methane.
The government has been criticised for its “completely inappropriate” endorsement of an e-cigarette manufacturer blamed for fuelling an “epidemic” of underage vaping in the UK.
The government have also failed to bring in effective legislature and regulation as one bottle of “2ml” vape liquid, equates to 20 cigarettes. Ineffective regulation has led to school children almost being a secondary market for e-cigarettes as they take up a large percentage of users.
The question of if the use of e-cigarettes is predominantly due to government or market failure is extremely complex and involves many factors, although it can be certain that further action is needed to prevent underage usage.