This is perhaps the most important thing you′ll read all year if you′re a vaper: the government consultation on vaping is open and you need to respond. If we do not act, harsh, anti-vaping laws will be passed. As a business we′re responding to this consultation, but the most important voice is yours. So, please, complete the questionnaire and try to get other vapers to do the same.
If you use any flavour other than tobacco there′s a high chance it will be banned in the UK. No, really, we′re not joking. The same goes for disposable vapes which are also facing a complete ban. This consultation is your only chance to speak up and it′s vital that as many vapers as possible complete the consultation questionnaire.
The consultation is the government′s attempt to gauge the opinion of the general public (vapers or otherwise) and find out what their thoughts are on vaping before passing a rash of new laws. The problem is that these laws are not in your best interest.
A number of moves, from banning flavours to restricting the sale of certain types of vape, are being presented by the government. If these measures are made into law it will fundamentally restrict what products are available to you forever and how easy it is for adult smokers to access a less harmful alternative to smoking.
There will be a lot of anti-vaping answers received to the government′s questionnaire, answers from people who have never used a vape and don′t know how vital they are. We need you to help us counteract this negative feedback with your experience.
So, even if you don′t read the rest of this article, please fill out the questionnaire and ask your friends and family to do the same. It really is that important.
This consultation hasn′t appeared out of thin air, it′s been opened in response to the rise in youth vaping. We completely agree that the numbers laid out in the ASH report are far too high, but cutting off access to the most successful smoking cessation products isn′t the answer. The problem we face is one of enforcement. We already have laws that stop children from vaping – it′s illegal to sell vapes to anyone under the age of 18, and this includes proxy purchases. It keeps happening because proper law enforcement isn′t taking place.
It′s a bit like speeding, if there′s no deterrent in place people will break the law. When you enforce the regulation, in this case with speed cameras, the rules are followed. It′s the same case with vaping and more needs to be done.
Our role has always been to help existing adult smokers quit or cut down, we don′t sell to kids – in fact, we′ve invested tens of thousands of pounds in age verification software and services to make sure this doesn′t happen. In fact, there may be people reading these who were frustrated when placing their first order because of our verification process, but it′s vital to ensure products don′t end up in the wrong hands.
More needs to be done to tackle rogue traders both online and on the high street, not to limit adults who need vapes to stop smoking. The government should be focussing on setting up proper enforcement agencies, just like they do for cigarettes and alcohol.
Even if new laws are introduced, what exactly are they going to do to solve the issue of enforcement? Regardless, laws could be quickly swept in, and this consultation is actually happening, so what exactly is being covered?
The first and perhaps most important point in the consultation is a move to ban or restrict vape flavours. You don′t need us to tell you how important flavours can be, they′ve already been linked in studies as a key part of the average smoker′s quitting journey. By limiting the options to tobacco or menthol, many vapers will be left without their favourite blend and the e-liquid that helps them stay off cigarettes. The rise in youth vaping has been linked to disposables; flavours have been available in the form of refills and e-liquid for over ten years, it′s not the flavours that present the issue, but rather the ease with which underage people are able to purchase vapes.
This next proposition might not affect online businesses like ours but could prove disastrous for brick-and-mortar stores. By keeping vapes locked away you might not even be able to tell which stores stock them, let alone which ranges and flavours are available. More importantly, keeping them out of sight next to the cigarettes and rolling tobacco only adds to the myth that “vaping is as bad as smoking” by further equating the two.
A lot of vapers spot their device or liquid of choice and distinguish it from the rest by its packaging. That′s its purpose. Plain packaging serves only to make things more difficult for adults and increases the likelihood of them accidentally selecting the wrong item. We agree that “fun fonts” and cartoon mascots have no place in the industry but removing any kind of distinguishing design is not the answer. Let′s also bear in mind that plain packaging is also easier for counterfeiters to replicate. By presenting vapes in a similar way to tobacco products, it again adds to the myth that vaping is as bad as smoking by further equating the two.
This is a big point, disposables have been hitting the headlines for a couple of years now and have divided public opinion. They are, however, the most convenient solution available. There′s no setup and no maintenance, and they directly compete with cigarettes in how simple they are, providing vapers with an option that requires no technical experience. It′s interesting to note that the government has launched no plans to ban single-use tobacco products outright… only vapes.
If you′re curious about the ecological impact, three of the largest waste management companies in the UK have already presented schemes and processes to manage disposable vapes - so a ban isn′t required to solve this issue. There′s already a huge black market for illegal disposables in the UK (overfilled, over-strength, untested devices), which is not being effectively enforced. A further ban would only fuel this market further and put more trade into the hands of criminals, as it has done in countries like Australia. If they can′t enforce the current laws, how will they enforce further measures?
Nicotine-free vapes exist in a sort of loophole at the moment, while UK manufacturers create these products to the same high standards that they produce their nicotine-containing vapes, they can still technically be sold to people under the age of eighteen (although responsible retailers like us still require you to be 18+ to purchase any kind of vape). We agree with the government that they should meet the same standards for sale as any other vape.
On the topic of youth vaping, the government has presented the case that vapes, particularly disposables, are more accessible than ever due to their relatively low price. Their plan is to raise the prices by adding extra tax onto them. This may discourage adult smokers though, as the cost-saving benefit of switching to vaping is a driving factor in quitting attempts. It would make more sense to require disposables to contain a minimum of 10ml of e-liquid, which would increase the price, but give adults more bang for their buck. It would also be much better for the environment as there′d be less waste too.
Along with a heavy-handed attempt to tackle “youth vaping” by making vape products more difficult for adults to access, the prospect of a “smoke-free generation” is also on the table. Namely, The UK government plans to bring forward legislation making it an offence to sell tobacco products to anyone born on or after January 1st, 2009.
As a vape company, we′re here to support adult smokers and as such we′ll leave you to make your own decision regarding this point. The only thing we will say is, that in any instance of prohibition – be that alcohol, drugs, even guns – an underground economy rises up to take advantage of the growing demand for a now-illegal product. These unscrupulous bootleggers will have no concern for product safety and standards, and black-market cigarettes can potentially be more dangerous for your health than the existing products available. That′s a scary thought.
Regardless, even if these new anti-smoking measures are put into place, they do nothing for current adult smokers. This is why we need to fight back against this attack on vaping, the laws passed could easily push adults back to cigarettes – cigarettes that they can legally purchase (as every single adult smoker in the UK was born before 2009). By restricting their access to harm-reduction tools and leaving them with fewer options than before, smoking prevalence could easily increase amongst the adult population.
The clearest and easiest way you can help is to complete the consultation questionnaire. You′ll have the opportunity to answer questions around the seven points listed above and this is the best way to get your point of view across. It won′t take long and the consultation is open to all UK residents. If you have any questions about how to fill out this questionnaire, please do not hesitate to contact us. We′re available 7 days a week and are on hand to answer any questions you might have.
The other thing you can do, if you have the time, is to contact your local MP directly. They represent your constituency in parliament and your voice, if they get enough people to contact them about flavours, disposable vapes, or anything else in the questionnaire it′s their job to represent you. They should in turn take these concerns higher and ideally form their own consultation response around the views of the people they represent.
You can find your local MP and their contact details via: https://members.parliament.uk/FindYourMP
It would be really interesting for us to try and keep a tally of how many of you have responded to the consultation, but we appreciate you are all busy people. If you do have the time, just drop us an email or a message on social media so we can keep a rough track of numbers.
The quickest way to help is to complete the government's questionnaire. It won't take long and it will make sure your voice is heard!