The Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) is calling on public health influencers and policy makers
to do more to counter misleading messages about e-cigarettes. The IBVTA believes that a significant downturn in
e-cigarette sales over the last 12 weeks is clear evidence that consumer confidence in a regulated product sector
has been severely shaken, and unnecessarily so.
Vaping is the most popular and effective quit smoking aid available in the UK. The conflation of harms caused by
illicit drug use in the USA with the method of delivery has grossly maligned the sector that produces and sells vape
products in the UK. Public health commentators have now commented frequently that incidents such as those that
have occurred in the USA cannot and will not occur with the use of vape products legitimately and responsibly
supplied to the UK market. That these messages are heard is paramount in ensuring that UK smoking rates
continue to fall in an unprecedented way.
Speaking about why the injuries seen in the US are not being seen in the UK, Professor Linda Bauld said: “It
seems highly unlikely that widely available nicotine-containing vaping products, particularly of the type regulated in
Europe, are causing these cases. All the evidence to date suggests that illicit marijuana vaping products (THC oils)
are the cause. In particular, a compound called tocopherol acetate may be the culprit.”
In recent months, research has shown that vaping is now the most effective way to quit smoking. A randomised
controlled trial carried out at Queen Mary University of London found that smokers were twice as likely to quit using
an e-cigarette than if they were using traditional nicotine replacement therapies (NRT).
At a recent Science Media Centre briefing, Professor John Britton, Consultant in Respiratory Medicine at the
University of Nottingham, and Chair of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies said that there is no danger
to the public from passive vaping. The panel, which also included Professor Anne McNeill of the National Addiction
Centre at King's College London, said it would be a "great shame" if people were deterred from vaping by the
situation in the US.
These positives are backed up by the fact that the UK has had a legitimate, credible and responsible vaping
industry subject to stringent regulatory requirements for over three and a half years now. Responsible businesses
operate on an open book basis and act collaboratively with regulators to make sure that they are selling the safest
products possible to their customers.
The IBVTA claim that the unintended consequences of bias against vaping, rather than the true culprit in the USA,
illicit drug use, will be that some smokers may not now try an e-cigarette as part of a quit attempt. The IBVTA also
believes the current downturn in sales may be evidence that many who had recently switched to vaping may have
already returned to smoking.
Becky Scotford of Cirencester Vape Co. which owns three vape stores in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire,
said, “We have seen a marked drop in starter kits sales recently. This is extremely frustrating for us, not just as
business owners but personally. As vape shop owners we pride ourselves on being able to help people quit
smoking. With the restrictions placed on our sector, the message that vaping is safer than smoking needs to reach
above the noise.’’
IBVTA Chief Executive, Gillian Golden said, ‘’Some of our members are reporting a drop in sales of ‘starter kits’
of between 30 and 60%. Starter kits are typically the devices a smoker purchases in order to switch to vaping, and this downturn is a clear indication that the misleading messages on vaping are adversely affecting perceptions
among smokers about their safety.
“Vaping is transforming the lives of smokers and has grown to be the most popular, effective and best value quit
tool the UK has ever seen. Smokers can be confident in switching to an e-cigarette, and getting this message out
needs to be a combined effort across industry, government and the public health community.’’