Some regulators have expressed fears that vaping products could act as a ‘gateway’ to tobacco use among non-smokers, or that vaping could ‘renormalise’ the act of smoking. UKVIA does not believe these fears are justified, primarily because the statistics to-date do not support the suggestion that non-smokers are vaping, and secondly, because most available data shows the opposite is occurring and vaping products are acting as a gateway away from tobacco. UKVIA believes all marketing, advertising and product designs should be directly aimed at adult smokers who are seeking an alternative to tobacco. Importantly, any visual similarities between smoking and vaping will become increasingly less obvious as the technology and category continues to develop.
When Action on Smoking and Health UK conducted extensive research in 2014, it found that less than 0.2% of vapers were people who had never smoked. The World Health Organisation, too, says: “renormalisation as measured by smoking prevalence of smoking is not occurring currently.” In fact, there is no credible evidence that shows cigarette consumption is increasing due to vaping. To the contrary, most evidence suggests that vaping products are actively contributing to declining smoking rates as increasing numbers of smokers move away from tobacco. Only recently, a UK study found that, in 2015 alone, 18,000 smokers successfully quit tobacco by using vaping devices, and, according to Action on Smoking and Health “the drop-in smoking also shows that concerns that the use of electronic cigarettes would lead to a renormalisation of tobacco use appear unfounded. The rapid increase in use of these products has coincided with a consistent steady decline in smoking.”
UKVIA believes manufacturers and retailers must remain vigilant in minimising vaping product appeal to under-18s and non-smokers to ensure that this continues. UKVIA strongly advocates legally enforceable bans on the sale of e-cigarettes to under-18s, as well as the enacting of advertising codes preventing the targeting of young people and non-smokers.