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There is a youth uptake issue with vaping and alcohol… but only one makes headline news

By UKVIA 3rd August 2023 4 Mins


UKVIA Director General John Dunne was in Amsterdam recently where he discussed how vaping was treated differently from other age-restricted products.

It was a great experience to represent the UKVIA at the recent ENDS 2023 Conference in Amsterdam which came as the industry is in the spotlight more than ever before.

I have always enjoyed attending the ENDS conferences in London so it was a particular delight when they announced that this year’s ENDS 2023 event would be held in Amsterdam.

Apart from the change of location, the format was exactly the same with two days of debate, presentations, networking and discussions, all kept on track with the military precision of Arcus Compliance Managing Director Robert Sidebottom.

With youth vaping the number one hot topic, it was no surprise that this was on the ENDS agenda. Alongside Jeannie Cameron the CEO of JCIC International and We Vape Director Mark Oates, we debated why vaping was treated differently from two other age restricted products, combustible tobacco and alcohol.

What was immediately clear from the discussion is that young people experiment with both cigarettes and alcohol but if you look at the media you would never know this.

For example, the media will be all over a story saying that there have been 32 hospital admissions from young people with vaping-related illnesses while totally ignoring the 32,000 alcohol-related admissions for people of the same age.

It is also funny how the anti-vaping lobby are ok with adults vaping as long as the experience is as unpleasant as possible.

They totally fail to see that the reason that it has been so successful in getting smokers to quit is because the vast array of flavours out there make it a pleasurable experience for adults to enjoy nicotine.

I must have more bottles of flavoured gin at home than I care to admit, but nobody is jumping up and down and calling for those flavours to be banned, even though they are often exactly the same ones used in vaping products.

And isn’t it funny how the mint, watermelon, fruit and cherry flavours commonly found in nicotine gum are never mentioned? If the argument holds for one age restricted product then logically it must hold for them all.

So if flavoured vapes must be banned on child protection grounds then so must flavoured vodka or gin.

The fact that there are these double standards just goes to show that this entire argument on banning flavours is without merit.

It is used because anti-vaping crusaders know the media will latch onto and the false claims that the industry only introduced flavours to hook a new generation of children of nicotine is clickbait gold dust.

This is a topic which comes up with every round of media interviews I do. No matter what the topic is, the interviewer will quickly pivot to this old favourite and ask:

“But what about the flavours John? They are surely just there to appeal to children because adults don’t need flavoured cigarettes so why would they need flavoured vapes?”

And while I am happy to accept that some journalists may really believe this, I strongly suspect that others keep returning to the topic because they know it will spark debate and discussion from their audience.

In fact, I talk to journalist all the time and many openly admit that they would prefer not to write positive vaping stories because nobody would read it, while the negative ones really gets their audiences riled up.

And finally… I got into a rather heated discussion with someone looking to join the UKVIA at the recent Vaper Expo UK in Birmingham.

The big issue for me was that the vape products he was selling featured kittens all over them and he had a hard time understanding why I had a problem with this.

While this is an amusing anecdote it neatly highlights why the UKVIA is calling on the Government to give the MHRA new powers to examine packaging and product design as part of the initial approvals process.

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Or, check out our feature on how “The UKVIA teams up with Citizen Card to prevent youth access to vapes

Topics: UKVIA


About this author


John Dunne is the Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) and is one of it's founding members. John has a long and well-respected background in the European vaping sector and has held senior positions at some of industry's leading firms. In addition, he has advised industry analysts, financial institutions and the UK government on the vaping and tobacco harm reduction, as well as given evidence before health and scientific committees advocating for the industry. John is often seen on UK television, radio and worldwide print media.