Waitrose has stopped selling single-use vaping products because of their negative impact on the environment and the health of young people.
The popularity of products such as e-cigarettes has soared over the past year, with vaping in Great Britain reaching record levels. About 4.3 million people are regular vapers, according to a recent report.
The company said it could no longer justify selling single-use products and that it had removed two types of e-cigarette from sale.
“Our move comes as reports suggest that the market growth is being fuelled by the popularity among those who haven’t previously smoked,” it said.
Waitrose said it has de-listed vaping products containing lithium, which it had previously sold under the Ten Motives label.
The firm’s commercial director, Charlotte Di Cello, said: “We are a retailer driven by doing the right thing, so 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 rapid growth, so this decision is the final jigsaw piece in our clear decision not to be part of the single-use vaping market.”
No other major UK supermarket chains have publicly announced that they will be taking similar action.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed last month that the proportion of tobacco smokers in the UK had fallen to the lowest level on record in 2021, partly because of the increase in vaping.
The ONS said vaping devices such as e-cigarettes had played a major role in reducing the prevalence of tobacco smoking across the UK.
It added, however, that the proportion of vapers was highest among current cigarette smokers at 25.3%, and former cigarette smokers at 15%. Only 1.5% of people who have never smoked said they vaped.
Vaping is considered to be substantially less harmful than smoking, according to a major review of nicotine products, but action is needed to tackle the sharp rise in e-cigarette use among children.
Despite it being illegal to sell the devices to under-18s, research indicates a steep rise in underage vaping over the last five years, with the proportion of 16- to 18-year-olds who say they use e-cigarettes doubling in the past 12 months, according to Action on Smoking and Health.
Elf Bar, one of the leading brands of disposable vapes, was previously found to be flouting rules to promote its products to young people on TikTok.