UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) says the Scottish Government has taken a “damaging and disproportionate approach” in proposed measures to restrict the advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes.
The trade body has 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.
UKVIA’s view is that while the Scottish Government has accepted that vape products are a valuable tool to help smokers looking to quit, its approach paradoxically brings together 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.
John Dunne, UKVIA’s Director-General, 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, 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 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,” Dunne added.
UKVIA said these steps, alongside an increase in 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.
UKVIA also expressed 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.