Welcome to the second issue of Vaping UK, an e-bulletin published by the UK Vaping Industry Association bringing the latest news and views in the sector.

UKVIA: The vaping industry must be able to promote health evidence of vape products

The UKVIA is to call on the Government to allow the vaping industry to promote evidence based health benefits of vaping products in the wake of the recent Tobacco Control Plan (TCP). It also wants the Government to waste no time in actioning the welcomed vaping measures announced in the TCP as part of moving towards a smoke free future.

The Government committed to two key measures relevant to vaping in the TCP:

  • Public Health England updating their evidence report on e-cigarettes annually until the end of the current Parliament in 2022 and including messages about the relative safety of e-cigarettes within stop smoking campaigns.
  • A commitment to review where the UK’s exit from the EU offers opportunities to review current regulations to identify where the UK can sensibly deregulate and assess recent legislation such as the Tobacco Products Directive, including as it applies to e-cigarettes.

Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, board member at UKVIA comments: “For the first time, there is an endorsement of a tobacco harm reduction approach and correspondingly a recognition of the leading role that vaping has to play in reducing smoking rates in England to 12% (from current 15.5%) by 2022 as a first step towards a generation of non-smokers.

“It is very welcome news that the Government acknowledges that vaping is the most popular quitting method for smokers in England and has committed Public Health England to regularly update their evidence base on e-cigarettes and include their advice in all quit smoking campaign messaging. Equally, it’s reassuring to hear that the Government will be scrutinising Article 20 of the EU Tobacco Product Directive.

“Our aim will be to make sure that such scrutiny is actioned immediately and to call upon Government to allow the vaping industry to communicate the public health message to consumers (in the same way it is committing Public Health England to do so) – for the benefit of vapers and smokers and UK public health generally.”

The vaping sector’s response to the TCP including the following media reports and industry perspectives:

Vaping helps smokers quit, say the British Medical Journal

A new study from the USA published in the British Medical Journal, reinforces the fact that vaping helps smokers to stop smoking.

The study, conducted by Professor Shu-Hong Zhu of the University of California, confirmed that vaping products had played an important role in increasing the smoking cessation rate.  Indeed, it found that from 2014-15, e-cigarette users attempted to quit cigarette smoking and succeeded in quitting smoking at higher rates (65%) than those who use traditional cigarettes (40%).

This study adds to the mounting evidence of the efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation tool, and certainly adds extra impetus to calls for US policy makers to review their extremely negative stance towards vape products.

The full study can be downloaded here, and a more concise interpretation of its results are available here.

The UKVIA says Stirling University ‘gateway’ research lacks common sense

Claims by a study that teenagers are as likely to try an e-cigarette as they are a normal cigarette, have been rejected by the UKVIA as being without any substance.

Doug Mutter, a UKVIA Board Member responded: “Whilst we obviously recognise that vaping should not be aimed at young people, it is simply common sense that the same experimental teenagers, who try a cigarette, are also likely to try an e-cigarette and therefore in our view the findings have no real substance”.

The Stirling University study is also at odds with existing data on the use of vaping products by teenagers; indeed research by Action on Smoking (ASH) confirms that just 1% of teenagers are regular users of e-cigarettes and concluded that that it is unlikely that electronic cigarettes are currently acting as a gateway into smoking for young people. Doug Mutter added: “Vaping products are an adult-only category and should not be targeted at young people, which is why we were pleased to see that less than 1 in 10 (1942 out of 2125, 9/10 have never used an e-cigarette) of the children surveyed had ever experimented with an e-cigarette.”

“The findings of the study, while initially concerning, reflect the experiences of just 6% of students in four schools (183 out of 3001). In addition, the study does not discover why these children tried an e-cigarette, merely that the children at risk of trying a cigarette are the same as the ones at risk of trying an e-cigarette.”

“Everyone involved in public health and the vaping sector should do their best to discourage minors from vaping. However, we should not allow small and inconclusive studies such as this one to distract us from the huge potential of vaping in smoking cessation, also highlighted by the British Medical Journal editorial earlier this week.”

Full details of the study can be found here.

UKVIA calls on more local authorities to become vape friendly

The UKVIA continues to collaborate with, and engage with, stakeholders across the vaping debate. Most recently it met with the Local Government Association and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health to discuss the implementation of vaping regulations at a local level.

In particular, the UKVIA explored the significant differentiation that exists between how local authorities treat vaping within their own institutions and discussed how Public Health England guidance could be used to improve this situation.

There are examples of vape-friendly councils, such as Hertfordshire County Council, who have chosen to follow the Public Health England guidance without prompting. The UKVIA is calling on more councils to take this approach and for Public Health England to do more to educate local authorities that adopt anti-vaping policies.

The UKVIA has also recently been in dialogue with Scottish Government officials on the future of regulation in Scotland, as well as Professor Linda Bauld on a number of related issues. The Scottish Government will shortly be releasing a consultation over plans to introduce further advertising regulation for vaping products. The UKVIA has been clear that the current advertising restrictions already prevent the vaping industry communicating the positive public health potential of vaping to consumers, and further regulation would fail to recognise the leading role of vaping in reducing smoking rates in the UK.

Introducing Evapo and its plans to mirror the success of coffee shops

Evapo is the latest member of the UKVIA. With a presence in the UK and Germany since the company was founded just three years ago, CEO Andrej Kuttruf talks about how vape stores could mirror the success of mobile phone and coffee shops on the High Street.

“Many of our customers come to our stores looking for a manageable and sustainable way of giving up smoking, eager to improve their health and lifestyle. We understand this drive for smokers to turn to vaping; Evapo co-founder Bao Tieu was first converted to vaping after using it as an aid to give up smoking in 2012. With this in mind, we founded Evapo in 2014 with a passionate commitment to professionalise the burgeoning and emerging vaping sector.

“The vaping industry is experiencing a period of fast and aggressive growth. It’s propelling us into the mainstream, and soon there won’t be many high streets in the country which don’t feature an attractive vaping shop. They will be as common place and as normal as a coffee shop. Indeed, we are so convinced that popping to the vaping shop will become part of the weekly shop, we are planning to double the number of our shops in the UK over the next 12 months.

“It is critical however that our growth goes hand-in-hand with trust in our industry’s products. It is incumbent upon us to responsibly promote our products and agree on industry wide standards.

“As an industry we also have to constantly reinforce the growing evidence of the positive impacts of vaping against smoking and ensure we can promote this to prospective vapers, something that current regulation doesn’t allow us to, albeit the Government is telling its own public health department to do so.”