The UK vape industry has welcomed the prime minister’s announcement that smoking will be phased out as part of an incremental generational approach but warned that over-regulating popular vape products could deny adult smokers a proven smoking cessation tool.
In response to the prime minister’s speech, the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) has highlighted the role that vaping has to play in delivering a smokefree England by 2030. A recent IBVTA member commissioned survey of 6,000 UK adults found overwhelming evidence that vaping products, including single use devices, were critical to helping smokers quit.
“We welcome the government’s intention to phase out tobacco use. However, if this is going to work, then smokers need proven pathways off their addiction. All the evidence shows that single use products are a crucial first step to getting smokers off tobacco particularly in disadvantaged communities with high levels of smoking where, because of their ease of use, they are an effective smoking cessation tool,” Marcus Saxton, chair of the IBVTA, said.
“Undermining these products risks undermining the government’s ambitions for a smoke-free England and to phase out tobacco use.”
The IBVTA has further warned that disproportionate regulation of vaping products would create a ‘Wild West’ of unregulated and untested products pushed by criminals, widely available to children.
Estimates from law enforcement suggest that already a third of the single use vape market is illicit. Over-stringent regulation, said the IBVTA, would be a ‘blunt instrument’ while benefitting criminals and jeopardising health gains.
“As an industry, we recognise that youth vaping needs to be tackled and we stand-ready to work with Government and towards this and we welcome wider consultation on the industry,” Saxton said.
“Rather than the knee-jerk introduction of new regulations, existing legislation should be properly enforced, and responsible manufacturers and retailers properly supported, rather than reaching for the blunt instrument of policy measures that could have damaging consequences.”
Responding to the prime minister’s announcement on potential vaping legislation, John Dunne, director general, UK Vaping Industry Association, said: “We agree with the government that we need to protect our children from vaping, we need to also avoid discouraging smokers from quitting. We would also urge the Government not to implement further legislation when we already have appropriate legislation – we just need to enforce it properly.”
The UKVIA has been advocating for stronger measures to stop rogue retailers selling vapes to under-18s, including on the spot fines of up to £10,000 and a licensing scheme for retailers.
“Currently 250 people die from smoking every day in the UK. Vaping is proven to be the most effective way to quit and is in fact, twice as effective as all other methods combined. Any decision to restrict adult access to vapes, particularly disposable vapes, on which over half of smokers looking to give up rely, would be counterproductive. Similarly, research has shown that banning flavoured vapes will encourage a significant proportion of ex-smokers back to cigarettes, with potentially fatal consequences,” Dunne added.