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Think Tank Gets Behind Vaping

Demos is a cross-party political UK think tank and has released a document detailing its position on vaping regulation

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Demos is a UK think tank with a cross-party political viewpoint, looking at politics, policy, and decision-making. The organisation was seen to influence the labour Party during the Blair years. Its recent document looking at vaping regulation is important as it indicates what kind of support tobacco harm reduction could enjoy should Labour form the next government.

Demos says the current regulations governing the manufacture and sale of vape products has evolved in a “tangled” fashion. On one hand, it has sought to guide the use of ecigs while, on the other, seeking to promote use to current smokers in order to reduce the damage caused through tobacco use. The think tank calls our current raft of measures “world leading”, but it adds “there is vast room for improvement”.

New legislation should have two priorities, according to Demos:

  • To protect the health and safety of vapers and smokers
  • To effectively support the wider public health agenda in the UK

To achieve this aim, Demos says “a rebalancing is needed.”

It says: “Poorly targeted policies could introduce those who do not smoke - who may never have smoked - to nicotine through e-cigarette products. Second, care must be taken not to incentivise the development of substandard or counterfeit products, posing a significant and substantial risk of harm to consumers. Finally, there is the risk that young people will be encouraged to use e-cigarette products - despite age restrictions, latest data shows that 16% of children 11-17 have tried vaping, an increase from 14% in 2020. This number rises to 29% for 16-17 year olds.”

Demos says the current regulation has “clear gaps” in it which need addressing. These include:

  1. Stringent age verification processes at point of sale
  2. Closing loopholes that make it legal to hand out free vape samples to children
  3. Preventing e-cigarettes being displayed as ‘impulse buy’ products in shops
  4. Tackling packaging that appeals to young people
  5. Increasing the enforcement activities of existing e-cigarette regulations
  6. Better protecting children from exposure to age- restricted products on social media

While alarm bells might sound at the thought of packaging being accused of enticing non-smoking teens to vape, the fact that Demos do not include the oft-cited “child friendly flavours” is to be welcomed.

Deeper into the document, flavours do receive a kicking: “There is concern that this variety of flavours may encourage young non-smokers to take up vaping, with a study of English school children finding that flavoured e-cigarette adverts elicited greater interest in trying them than adverts for non-flavoured e-cigarettes”.

The upside is that they note research showing flavours are essential to helping adult smokers successfully switch – and that this also applies to teen smokers.

The authors conclude: “There is a clear case for urgent and comprehensive changes in the current regulatory framework, and we have outlined priority areas for change.”


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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