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Switching customers from disposable to reusable vape devices

Switching customers from disposable to reusable vape devices

Published by James Dunworth

Disposable vape devices elicit a love/hate reaction from many retailers. Some hate their impact, and even refuse to sell them. Others see the benefit in disposable vapes helping smokers and giving vape shops a boost.

As retailers, we can’t dictate what devices consumers choose to buy. However, we are in a position to educate them and give advice on the best choice. In fact, I’d argue that whichever side of the camp you fall in, there’s both a benefit and a responsibility to doing what you can to tackle disposable vape devices, and switching customers to reusable devices where feasible.

Why should we switch vapers from disposable vape devices to refillable devices?

Man using a disposable vape device.

Disposable devices are bad for the environment

Each disposable vape pen contains a lithium-ion battery, designed to be used hundreds of times. Yet in a disposable device, they are used once and thrown away. Many are thrown away on streets or even on beaches, where they can pollute the environment - others end up in landfill. Indeed, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that ten tonnes of lithium from disposable vape devices ends up in landfills every year.

Even when disposable devices are returned to the manufacturer, there are challenges in recycling them.

That’s not to suggest that re-usable devices are perfect - but they are a lot better. For comparison, we’ve compared a typical disposable device and a reusable MTL device. (This does vary depending on both the device and the user.)

Mini-infographic comparing the waste generated by disposable and reusable vape.

Disposable vapes are expensive

The typical disposable device contains 2ml of e-liquid and costs between £4 and £6 - i.e. £2 to £3 per ml. That’s a horrendous price when even high-quality e-liquid costs less than 40p per ml. At a time when living costs are going through the roof, and our customers are feeling the squeeze, we should guide our customers to making the right decision for their pocket.

Disposables give the vape industry a bad rep

If environmental concerns aren’t enough for you, consider the damage disposables are doing to the image and reputation of the vaping industry.

We’ve already covered the environment, but disposable devices also seem to be more attractive to younger people. Indeed, a 2022 Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) report found that use amongst young people had almost doubled (albeit, almost all users were current or former smokers). We’re already seeing increased calls for regulation - including a demand from ASH Scotland for a ban on non-tobacco flavours.

Reusable vape devices are better for repeat customers

Let’s not forget that disposable devices can be bought from any retailer - including those with little interest in quality or regulations. In contrast, most reusable vape devices have a limited number of places where coils, replacement tanks and so on can be purchased.

By selling your customer a reusable device, you can also demonstrate your expertise and service. That means you are more likely to gain a repeat customer when you switch that customer to those devices.

Can you switch customers to reusable vape devices?

Sometimes! Some customers are not interested in taking advice and will continue with disposable devices. Some will listen and switch in the future. Others, however, will switch immediately.

How to switch customers to reusable vape devices

Man in vape shop explains a reusable device to a customer.

Highlight the benefits - but Keep It Simple

Explain to your customers the expense of a disposable device, and how it compares to a reusable device. Combine that with explaining the damage to the environment it causes. You thereby offer both a self-interested and a noble reason to switch from disposable devices to reusable devices. Follow the KISS principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid!)

Be gentle

If you feel passionate about the topic, it’s easy to get too excited - but that could lose you the customer altogether. Instead, explain gently, and make sure the customer doesn’t feel pressured into making a decision.


On the other hand, if a customer doesn’t switch to a reusable device immediately, don’t give up. After all, buying a refillable, rechargeable device can represent a commitment to vaping that buying a disposable doesn’t. A gentle reminder (“Have you thought again about…”) over several visits may help sway your customer.

Only go one level up…

Especially with new vapers, it’s usually key to keep the device you recommend simple, and a similar shape & size to disposables. Often, at this stage, that means a device with a convenient pre-filled, fixed-coil pod, such as the Hexa range, although we have also found the XROS Mini to be a popular alternative.

It’s true that these devices can have more impact on the environment - and pockets - than a refillable, replaceable coil device. However, the priority here is to minimise the additional effort to the consumer and make it easy for them to take the next step on their vaping journey. As Cedric Rijkers of Hexa says:

“Sure, closed pod systems aren’t as cost efficient as open systems, but they are still both cheaper and better for the environment than closed pod systems.”

Of course, once your customers have switched, and seen the benefits of doing so, they may be amenable to a more advanced device with refillable pods or tanks and replaceable coils.

Do note this comes with a caveat - your needs analysis may identify that the customer does need a more advanced device. We’ll cover more on needs analysis in a future post.

Where possible, match e-liquid flavours

It is much easier to switch customers from disposable devices to reusable devices when they can continue to use their favourite flavour. Fortunately, Some brands, such as IVG carry the same flavours in disposable devices as in e-liquid flavours. Even Elf Bar is now creating an e-liquid range which means vapers can now get their favourite flavour in a 10ml e-liquid flavour.


There’s no magic bullet to solving the problem. Disposable devices are strongly-flavoured, sweet and attractive in colour. Their very design plays to the increasing demand for convenience in our society, which prioritises ease-of-use and time-saving over cost saving.

Still, that’s not an excuse not to take action. As vape retailers, we have the ability to impact some of our customers. In turn, we can benefit the industry, help our customers, reduce our own impact on the environment - and help our businesses in turn.

Further reading:

How to sell disposable devices profitably and legally