Before the first lockdown the UKVIA campaigned intensely to keep vape shops open, lobbying the UK government as well as the devolved administrations to try and persuade them that not granting these retailers “essential” status would result in a rise in smoking prevalence.
Now, just released research has revealed that the number of adults aged 18-35 who smoke has risen by a quarter compared to pre-lockdown figures.
John Dunne, Director General of the UKVIA, said: “Sadly, this new research from the University of Sheffield and UCL revealing smoking among 18-35-year-olds increased by 25 per cent in England during the first lockdown comes as no surprise.
“With far fewer places to buy vaping products it was inevitable that many would return to smoking and while not all of the estimated 652,000 more adults aged 18-35 who now smoke compared to pre-pandemic levels would have been vapers, a significant proportion surely were.
“That’s why we are reiterating our call on the Government and other important decision makers to be bold, ambitious and most of all inclusive of vaping and other safer nicotine alternatives when it comes to the upcoming Tobacco Control Plan so that we can help those smokers who wish to quit combustible tobacco, smash highly damaging misperceptions that persist around vaping and get those smoke free ambitions firmly back on track.”
While UKVIA was calling for common sense with the Tobacco Control Plan, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and some UK public health figures were demanding regressive measures.
Despite ASH’s own findings proving there hasn’t been an issue with teen vaping for over a decade, they are reported as calling for the Government to ban “totally inappropriate marketing techniques”.
ASH and Professor Chris Whitty want political action to prohibit “bubblegum candy”, “gummy bears”, and “slushies” e-liquid. They are also calling for a ban on cartoon designs on packaging.
ASH chief executive Deborah Arnott told journalists: “Branding using cartoon characters, garish colours and sweet names is clearly attractive to children, and it is hard to imagine why it is necessary for adult smokers.
“These are totally inappropriate marketing techniques for manufacturers to be using, given that it is illegal to sell e-cigs to under-18s. These techniques risk luring children into e-cigarette use who otherwise would never have tried them. The government has a responsibility to do all it can to reduce the appeal of e-cigarette packaging to children.”
ASH has previously stated that it was concerned negative stories put adult smokers off switching to vaping. It appears to have forgotten this as it whips up fear over something that is not encouraging teens to vape.
- UK Vaping Industry Association - https://www.ukvia.co.uk/
- Health experts call for action on e-cigarette packaging aimed at children - https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/aug/29/health-experts-call-for-action-on-e-cigarette-packaging-aimed-at-children