UKVIA comment on the Royal College of Physicians report

UKVIA comment on the Royal College of Physicians report ‘Smoking and health 2021: A coming of age for tobacco control?’

The UK Vaping Industry Association welcomes the publication of the Royal College of Physicians’ Tobacco Advisory Group’s report ‘Smoking and health 2021: A coming of age for tobacco control?’. This builds on the work of its first report in this area, ‘Smoking and health’ which was published in 1962. The report shines a light on smoking and what can be done to reduce the impact which it still has on so many lives each year in the UK and elsewhere.

The UKVIA shares the sentiment of the report in noting the progress the UK has made in moving from a leader in tobacco consumption to a leader in tobacco control and reducing smoking levels by 75% compared to 1962 levels.

Key recommendations include:

Taxation – The report suggests a substantial increase in taxation on tobacco products over the next five years and at the same time proposes that smokers should be encouraged to switch to non-tobacco nicotine products. The report also recommends that tax on medicinal nicotine is reduced to zero and 5% on consumer non-tobacco nicotine products such as electronic cigarettes.

Health promotion – The report calls for funding of mass media public health campaigns to be restored to at least 2008 levels, to provide a low-cost, high-impact intervention to strengthen a comprehensive tobacco control strategy. The UKVIA has already stepped into this space though our VApril campaign, promoting vaping as an alternative to smoking for the past four years, in response to cuts to public health campaigns. The report suggests that adding health warnings on e-cigarette packs include a statement that e-cigarette vapour is likely to be substantially less harmful than tobacco smoke.

Public space smoking restrictions – The report suggests that as vaping products do not emit smoke they should not be classified in the same way as tobacco products. It suggests that permitting vaping indoors may help ensure that smoke-free measures have a greater chance of success.

Tobacco and nicotine product regulation – The report calls for a review of the regulation of e-cigarettes in the UK, to assess the extent to which the regulations support switching from smoking, while ensuring that current regulations ensure that all products on the market are safe.

UKVIA Director-General John Dunne has said in response to the report:

“This report by the Royal College of Physicians offers some important positive suggestions on reducing smoking levels and improving public health rates for the UK’s 7 million smokers. The UK is seen as a world leader in vaping. Therefore, I hope the Government takes note of the key recommendations in this report to build on this success; not least the suggestions about better promoting the take up of e-cigarettes for smokers by challenging and correcting the misrepresentation about the relative harms of vaping and removing vaping from smoking restrictions in public places.”

John Dunne continued:
“Reducing the tax on vaping products so they are more affordable and ensuring that these products are used as an effective treatment for tobacco dependency and used in all treatment pathways is also critically important. This is something I called for as long ago as 2018, when the UKVIA gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into e-cigarettes. The industry stands ready to help an increasing number of smokers looking to switch to the most popular nicotine replacement product available.”

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