UKVIA’s webinar featured John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA, Mark Pawsey MP and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, Patricia Kovacevic, Global Legal and Regulatory Strategist at Andina Gold Corp and Clive Bates Director of Counterfactual Consulting and former Director of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH).
They spoke about the impact of the pandemic on the vaping industry and vapers, how the sector moves on from the events of the last 12 months, and how the VApril campaign can take the mantle and make smoking in Britain a thing of the past in the future.
John Dunne opened by officially launching the UK’s fourth VApril, VApril 2021, online for the second year due to the Covid pandemic: “Innovation in the program continues to grow and this year goes international. We will be doing things all through the month and out members will be doing things online.”
Touching on the last year, something that the sector has responded to with strong resilience, “I don’t think anybody could have imagined a more difficult situation,” said John. “Not only with Coronavirus, but also with changes in legislation around the world.”
In particular, John pointed to the ludicrous situation of shipping bans in the United States and a number of countries implementing flavour bans on eliquids.
“One thing I’m extremely happy about is that we do have extensive support for vaping here in the UK, which is extremely important not only for our domestic businesses but also for international businesses as well, who rely on the positive message coming from the UK to try and convince their regulators that vaping is a good thing to do and they should be looking at the science and not the moral issues,” he commented.
Mark Pawsey expressed concern about the stalling of people switching to vaping and harked back to the time a member of his office switched to vaping and warned him the proposed Tobacco Products Directive was set to restrict access to products.
He explained about how his journey to discover more about vaping led him to appreciate the work vendors do in supporting quit attempts – something he imagines has been very difficult to do online during lockdown.
“I’m really bothered that vaping stores haven’t been able to open, haven’t been considered to be essential stores, although we did write to ministers to persuade them they should be,” Pawsey said.
This led Clive Bates to address the “information environment” that vapers and smokers are subjected to – from the facts being shared by Public Health England to the white noise of media coverage over things like the EVALI lung outbreak in the United States, “nothing whatever to do with nicotine vaping.”
At the same time, Clive continued, manufacturers and vendors are limited to what they are allowed to tell smokers. They and consumer groups are “protagonists in an information war, trying to get their point across, and trying to push back against this misinformation that is circulating about vaping.”
Calling a lot of what comes across from the United States “irresponsible claptrap”, Clive bemoaned the fact that companies can’t talk about safety or risk very easily, “can’t advertise very easily. It’s a battle and it’s going to go on for decades.”
Keep an eye out for VApril updates on the UKVIA Twitter account(3).