A group of MPs and Peers have today (Wednesday 1st November) urged the government to build upon Public Health England’s (PHE) Stoptober anti-smoking campaign, which was the first of its kind to encourage the use of vaping as a means to quit smoking.
In its report “The State of the Vaping Nation” the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on E-Cigarettes has called upon the government and public health bodies to sustain and capitalise on the level of public engagement with vaping seen during Stoptober by launching a continuous programme to keep promoting and accurately communicating the positive public health evidence for vaping.
Following the PHE campaign, which emerged from the government’s commitment in its recently published Tobacco Control Plan to back the promotion of the positive public health opportunity of vaping, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the largest trade body representing the sector, has reported that its members have experienced significant increase in sales during Stoptober.
In particular, the APPG has seen evidence from the UKVIA that there has been a considerable rise in starter-kit sales this Stoptober, suggesting a significant increase in those smokers trying vaping for the first time.
Watford-based Vape Club, the UK’s largest online vape e-liquid shop and JAC Vapour, a leading retailer, wholesaler and producer of vaping products, have experienced increases in starter kit sales by 37% and 65% year on year respectively.
Edinburgh based Vaporized, the UK’s largest vape retail chain, added 3 more stores to its now 106 store portfolio and experienced a 40% year on year rise in sales this October.
Mark Pawsey MP, Chairman of the APPG on E-Cigarettes, said: “The positive public health message regarding vaping has up to now been failing to get across to the UK’s remaining 7.6 million smokers. The Public Health England campaign was a welcome change and has had an obvious effect, but it needs to be sustained, not just a one off.
“That’s why today we are calling upon the government to ensure such campaigns become the norm, not an exception, so that the UK can fully exploit the public health potential of vaping.
“Without these campaigns the current mixed messages surrounding vaping will continue and create a confusing picture.”
Doug Mutter, a board member at the UKVIA, added: “when our own esteemed health bodies already recognise vaping as being at least 95% less harmful than smoking, why are we preventing people from making the switch by banning most advertising? Why does the industry have more strict packaging guidelines than bleach?”
The report also highlights a worrying trend in the public perception of vaping as an alternative to smoking, with only 20% of people correctly identifying that vaping is “a lot less harmful” than smoking, compared to 31% in 2015.
In addition, the number of adults who believe that vaping products are “as harmful”, or “more harmful” than smoking has nearly quadrupled from 2013 to 2017 from 7% to 26%.
Louise Ross, Stop Smoking Service Manager for Leicester City Council, the first Stop Smoking Service to go e-cigarette friendly, said: “we are concerned that aspects of the Tobacco Products Directive work against helping people to stop smoking, by making life for vapers more difficult…and by preventing positive messages being shared among those who have been frightened off vaping by a hostile propaganda war.”
The parliamentarians believe misinformation is actively preventing smokers from making the decision to switch; the number of UK vapers increased by just 4% from 2016 to 2017, compared to 86% in 2013, 62% in 2014, and 24% in 2015.
The APPG on E-Cigarettes report also recommends:
- An urgent review by the Government of vaping regulation as per its commitment in the Tobacco Control Plan, particularly the disproportionate elements of Article 20 of the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that effectively puts vaping in the same bracket as smoking;
- That the Government adopts a wider collaborative approach to policy creation in this area which involves all stakeholders including regulators, the scientific community, public health and the vaping industry;
- That Trading Standards ensures that current vaping regulations, particularly relating to product standards within the TPD, are consistently and vigorously enforced as the vaping industry has invested £6m in conforming to them;
- That the Government reviews and considers steps taken by the devolved authorities in Scotland and Wales to develop the enforcement powers of regulators.
Notes to editor:
- The APPG on E-Cigarettes was formed to explore the most appropriate parliamentary and regulatory response to vaping products and to increase understanding amongst policy makers regarding vaping products.
- The APPG officers are:
- Mark Pawsey MP, Chairman
- Gareth Johnson, MP
- Scott Mann, MP
- Kate Hoey, MP
- Glyn Davies, MP
- Viscount Ridley