San Francisco’s decision to ban vaping is deeply regrettable but responds to a very particular issue around youth vaping in the United States. In the UK, we take this extremely seriously and thankfully the situation is not mirrored here. The UK Vaping Industry Association is working with our members to make sure that remains the case. Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and events in America must not threaten public health benefits in the UK.
Our code of conduct ensures that Challenge 25 is used for purchases, to stop vaping products being sold to underage customers. As Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found in their 2018 report, there is no evidence of youth uptake in vaping in the UK.
We are very clear that vaping isn’t a children’s product and shouldn’t be marketed as one. Only 1% of underage vapers do it because it’s ‘cool’ – responsible British businesses do not make vaping appeal to children.
The biggest victims of this new ban will be smokers. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 40,000 people die every year in California from smoking-related illnesses. We know that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking, but many smokers will now be forced back onto cigarettes. This is a saddening turn of events for those trying to quit, given that vaping is 3x more effective than traditional NRT for smoking cessation.
Meanwhile, San Francisco residents will still be able to purchase marijuana and cigarettes, which many public health advocates may find hypocritical. We know from other products that prohibition merely creates black markets, where protections are reduced.
We want to reassure everyone in the UK that has made the switch to vaping from tobacco not to be alarmed by this news. Public Health England are very clear: vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. The US has a unique set of problems within its vaping market which, thanks to our fantastic British industry, we do not suffer from in the UK.