Vaping has helped millions of smokers to quit, saving lives and relieving the burden on the NHS. We all know this. But vaping is now threatened by the government’s plans to introduce new legislation.
The UK Government is considering several measures including the restriction of flavours, the banning of disposable vapes and the introduction of new taxation.
YES! FLAVOURS AND VAPES REALLY COULD BE BANNED!
But there is something you can do right now to save vaping as we know it.
Prior to introducing any new legislation, the government undertakes a consultation process to gauge opinions and to gather evidence. The consultation process regarding vaping regulations has been launched. You can contribute to that process by completing the relevant questionnaire online. It will only take a few minutes of your time and could be one of the most important things you ever do. Remember that those who are against vaping will be filling out that questionnaire as you are reading this!
It is vital that the government also hears from as many vapers as possible. You have until midnight, 6 December to register your opinion. Please act and then spread the word amongst family and friends!
There can be no doubt that vaping has enabled a huge number of smokers to quit, and that vaping is much safer than smoking. For many us, vaping has proved to be the Holy Grail that we never thought we would see.
Unfortunately, the arrival of disposable vapes has seen a significant growth in both underage vaping and pollution of the environment. This has resulted in increasing pressure on the government to take action.
Given that vaping is the most successful smoking cessation method available, we feel that it would be foolish and unreasonable to introduce any barriers to vaping. It is already illegal to sell vaping products to anyone under the age of 18. Most specialist vaping retailers, like Vapekit, go to considerable lengths and expense to ensure that they do not sell vaping products to those who are underage. Sadly, some high street general stores are not so responsible.
The issue here is clearly one of enforcement. Why should adult vapers pay more or be denied the flavours they enjoy simply because the existing laws are not adequately enforced? Do we not already have too many laws that protect the few by denying the many?
In any case, if vape products were banned, the likely beneficiaries would be crooks selling dangerous, unregulated e liquids and hardware on the black market.
So, what could the government decide to do? Measures under consideration include...
E liquid flavours could be restricted to tobacco and menthol options. Many vapers have identified the availability of a wide variety of flavours as being crucial to their success in quitting smoking. A high proportion of vapers favour fruit, drinks blends etc. The removal of choice could have a devastating effect on smoking cessation and would do nothing to prevent youngsters from vaping. The flavours simply aren’t the problem, it is the lack of enforcement that should be addressed together with the penalties for breaking the law. The current penalties for those caught selling vapes to children are clearly not deterring unscrupulous traders.
If you do complete the questionnaire we ask that you please read the questions around vape flavours very carefully as the way they have been worded is very confusing. Even if you select 'Disagree' when asked whether or not flavours should be limited, you are then presented with 3 further questions asking how you think vape flavours should be limited - which makes no sense.
Even if you do vape a tobacco or menthol flavour yourself, we ask that you support the roughly 70% of vapers who choose fruit, drinks & desserts flavours by opposing ALL flavour restrictions! If flavours were to be restricted more than 1.5 million UK ex-smokers could be denied their preferred vapes and potentially return to smoking!
Having said that, we do agree that the regulation around the way vape flavours are described should be tightened. Names like 'Cotton Candy' and 'Gummy Bears' are unnecessarily child-friendly - even though these flavours do also appeal to adults. We believe the industry would be significantly better off without products that could generally be perceived as appealing primarily to children.
As you are probably aware, smoking related products in store must be concealed in cabinets. The government is thinking about treating e liquids and devices in the same way. But surely applying the same rules to both smoking and vaping products would merely reinforce the idea that they are equally dangerous. The Restricting of displays would certainly be detrimental to bricks and mortar vape stores whose offerings would become invisible. This could result in many potential vapers who are seeking to quit smoking not being encouraged to explore the very things that could help them.
It is possible that manufacturers could be forced to use plain packaging for e liquids and hardware. We understand that colourful and imaginative packaging is attractive to youngsters. But unique packaging also enables vapers to identify their preferred e liquids and equipment. In addition, packaging can be effective in attracting the interest of smokers who are looking to quit. Plain packaging is easier to copy and so would help counterfeiters in their endeavours. Treating vape packaging in the same way as that for cigarettes would again reinforce the erroneous idea that vaping is as bad as smoking.
Now we arrive at the proverbial hot potato! Disposable vapes are user-friendly and convenient. As such, they represent the easiest and most appealing options for new vapers. But disposables are attractive to youngsters, and they contain both plastics and batteries that are harmful to the environment.
Disposables are single use products and so they are the vapes that most closely replicate cigarettes. However, while the government is considering banning disposable vape pens, there are no plans to institute similar bans on single use smoking products, even though they are clearly more harmful. This is neither fair nor logical.
It is also important to note that waste companies are evolving schemes to manage disposable vapes and so at least one of the solutions to the environmental issue has already been found.
The black market for disposables is enormous and a ban on legal products would only serve to drive more consumers to that market. Given the failure of the government to enforce the current legislation, further measures are unlikely to prove effective.
It remains legal for nicotine-free vapes to be sold to people under the age of 18 but responsible retailers refuse to do so. Nonetheless, nicotine-free products do represent a loophole in the law which should be addressed.
Benjamin Franklin famously said that “nothing is certain except death and taxes”. Unfortunately, penal taxation on tobacco products has failed to prevent the deaths resulting from the use of those products. Thankfully, until now, e liquids and vapes have not been subject to such taxation but all that could be about to change.
The relatively low cost of vaping does ensure that the related products are accessible to youngsters. But affordability is also a major driving factor for smokers thinking about transitioning to vaping. It is vital that vaping remains a significantly cheaper option than smoking and so taxation isn’t the answer.
Remember the old saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”? Well, all that is necessary for vapes to be banned is for vapers to do nothing.
The best thing you can do right now is complete the consultation questionnaire. It’s easy to understand and it will only take you a few minutes to answer the questions. Those questions cover the measures outlined above together with the proposal to progressively raise the age at which it is legal to purchase cigarettes.
We would also ask that you tell anyone who will listen about what’s happening and emphasise the damage that any new legislation could cause to vapers, smokers looking to quit and the NHS. There are no better advocates for vaping than vapers who have quit smoking. Speak to your MP, shout from the rooftops and do whatever you can to highlight both the importance of vaping and the preservation of choices for vapers.
Together, we can counter the threat to vaping while protecting both young people and the environment.