Vaping industry urges Scotland to rethink “damaging” new regulatory measures for e-cigarettes

  • The industry’s leading trade body, the UKVIA, responds to Scotland’s consultation on tightening regulations on the advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes, which would create an entirely separate regulatory environment in Scotland than anywhere else in the UK.
  • UKVIA says proposals conflate vaping and combustible tobacco, by aligning regulations on advertising and promotion with tobacco regulations.
  • Scotland on track to miss its 2034 smokefree target. According to Cancer Research, it is not predicted to achieve the first smoke-free generation until after 2050.[1]
  • Scotland has the highest smoking prevalence of any constituent country in the UK.

The Scottish Government has taken a “damaging and disproportionate approach” in proposed measures to restrict the advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes, according to the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), the sector’s largest trade body.

The UKVIA has this week responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation, which proposes a range of punitive regulations including a ban on e-cigarette advertising on billboards, buses, leaflets and flyers, as well as in-store promotional displays, free distribution, brand-sharing and sponsorship agreements.

These proposals would establish an entirely separate regulatory environment in Scotland from the rest of the UK.

The Scottish Government has cited concerns regarding the long-term risks of vape products and increased youth and never-smoker access, despite evidence that rates of vape users in this demographic remain low.

The UKVIA’s view is that while the Scottish Government has accepted that vape products are a valuable tool to help smokers looking to quit, their approach paradoxically conflates the relevant risk of e-cigarettes and combustible tobacco, detrimentally impacting the industry’s ability to communicate the range of products available to smokers looking to quit.

The UKVIA’s Director General, John Dunne, said: “In an environment where misinformation regarding the relative risks of vaping remains concerningly high, these measures will only serve to perpetuate existing misconceptions in Government, public health bodies, and individuals looking to quit combustible tobacco.”

Instead, the UKVIA has recommended a proportionate approach to regulation, which does not increase the burden on already resource-challenged enforcement bodies.

“The Scottish Government should instead consider the UKVIA’s guidelines on preventing underage access, as well as its proposals for a comprehensive national test-purchasing scheme, and a more robust retailer licensing scheme to replace Scotland’s registration scheme,” continued John Dunne.

The UKVIA believes these steps, alongside calls by the industry to increase the penalties for breaches of existing regulations, would go further to prevent youth and never-smoker access, while retaining the visibility of e-cigarettes for adult smokers looking to quit.

John Dunne added: “This consultation is proof that the Scottish Government fundamentally misunderstands vape products and the opportunities these present to achieve smokefree.”

Doug Mutter, who is compliance director at Edinburgh-headquartered VPZ, the UK’s largest independent chain of vape stores, as well as a director at the UKVIA, said: “We are a responsible industry which is clear that vape products should only be accessed by adult smokers. The Scottish Government should engage with the UKVIA to better understand how we ensure these products can be accessed by adult smokers, while ensuring continued low rates of youth and never-smoker access.”

The UKVIA has also expressed serious concerns regarding the consultation, citing inaccurate and incomplete representations of data pertaining to public perceptions of vape products, a narrow set of international examples, as well as youth vaping rates. It has instead urged the Scottish Government to reopen dialogue with public health experts, industry representatives, and ex-smokers who utilised vape products to quit to better understand the opportunities e-cigarettes pose for achieving smokefree.

[1] Cancer Research UK, 2020 Link 

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