Industry bodies respond to Scottish Government plans to ban vape ads

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has urged the Scottish government to rethink plans to ban the promotion of vaping products.

Scottish ministers are considering proposals which would restrict the promotion and advertising of vaping products, which it says currently do not go far enough to protect young people and non-smokers from “influential messaging”.

Its website states: “Use of vaping devices among young people in particular has increased in recent years despite the existing restrictions set out above. Those restriction do not cover all forms of advertising or promotional activity here in Scotland.

“Adverts on bus stops, vehicles, billboards, brochures and leaflets, offering free samples and sponsorship are still permitted. Advertising and promotional activities are a powerful and influential tool used by businesses to promote these products to consumers. Advertising and promotional activities expose people to vaping products in many different aspects of life, from standing at the bus stop to watching sports on TV. This gives advertising and promotional activities a very broad reach and they can be very influential.”

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Therefore, it has proposed that further Scotland-wide bans should be introduced around: advertising and brand sharing, free distribution and nominal pricing, and sponsorship.

In response, the UKVIA said this stance is “in denial of the facts” and creates a significant risk to the health of people of Scotland looking to quit smoking, as well as creating more uncertainty around vaping caused by misinformation.

The UKVIA’s position is echoed by the Scottish Grocers’ Federation which has stated the Scottish government’s move is unjustified.

Part of the Scottish government’s rationale for drawing up these plans is to ensure people who have never smoked do not take up vaping: “As it is currently understood that using vape products is less harmful than smoking tobacco, we recognise the benefits in these products as a cessation tool… at the same time, we are concerned that adult non-smokers, young people and children would be exposed to some known and some unknown harms from the chemicals in vaping products if they were to use them as a lifestyle accessory. We do not want these groups of people to be encouraged to start using vaping products.”

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Doug Mutter, director at VPZ and the UKVIA, said there is very little evidence of non-adult smokers turning to vaping. “An ASH study amongst adult vapers in Great Britain last year revealed that fewer than 1% of ‘never smokers’ are current vapers. Therefore, the current situation already ticks the Scottish government’s box that vape products should only be used as a means to stop smoking tobacco.”

John Dunne, director general at the UKVIA, said: “We urge the Scottish government to use this consultation positively as an opportunity to discuss the mounting evidence, including the view of NHS Scotland which has openly said vaping is definitely less harmful than smoking tobacco and isn’t seen as a gateway to smoking.

“And this comes at a time when the British government is considering putting vape products on prescription given the phenomenal impact they have had on the lives of former smokers, not to mention trials that took place last year where smokers, including some in Scotland, attending A&E departments were offered e-cigarettes to help them quit.”

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