The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has today (1st September) announced that the membership of British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International and Philip Morris International has come to an end.
This means that the UKVIA will no longer include any tobacco companies within its membership. Following a member-wide consultation, the association will not be accepting any new applications for membership by vaping businesses wholly/part owned or acquired by tobacco companies in the future. As a result, it will not be accepting any tobacco company funding in the future.
When the UKVIA was initially set up seven years ago it was established to represent the entire UK vaping industry, including the e-cigarette operations owned by tobacco brands.
In this period, the association has established itself as a major force in the sector, championing the burgeoning vaping industry across the UK. Today it’s also held up as a leading voice of the industry across the world.
However, it has become increasingly clear that the interests of the industry would be best served by the association being independent of any involvement or funding from tobacco-owned vaping brands.
This is for two main reasons.
Firstly, there has been an ingrained external misperception that the association is largely financially supported by tobacco firms. Whilst this could not be further from the truth (funding from tobacco-owned vaping brands for the last membership year amounted to less than 4% of the total of all UKVIA’s income) it gave the impression in some quarters that the association was synonymous with combustible tobacco, the very market it is trying to eliminate to create a smoke free future.
Secondly, in order to progress the pivotal role that government sees vaping playing in a smokefree world, there is a need for heightened engagement with a range of key stakeholders including: policy makers, parliamentarians, public health officials and local authorities. The UKVIA’s intention in including tobacco-owned vaping brands in the association’s membership originally was to create a significant movement for change, from tobacco to vaping, partly through their organisations focusing on the production of vapes and reduced harm alternatives.
However, the UKVIA acknowledges that it underestimated the impact of restrictions on tobacco companies for the association to engage with some key stakeholders, particularly those in public health.
In representing vaping-only businesses, many of which are independent firms founded on the back of personal loss of family members as a result of smoking combustible cigarettes, the UKVIA wants to be fully engaged with key stakeholders across the board as we have the same vision, which is to make smoking history. The association sees this as being a vital step in ensuring that the public health potential of vaping is fully realised and the sector making its fullest contribution to the delivery of the smoke free targets over the next few years to 2030.
All the evidence points to vaping being the most effective way to stop smoking which kills some 220 adults every day. Through its continued efforts, the UKVIA is determined to see the remaining five million plus British smokers make positive life changing decisions by switching from cigarettes to vapes. The association also wants to continue to play its key role in cementing Britain’s position as a global leader in and model for smoking cessation through the mainstream use of considerably less harmful vapes.