Newspaper claims that open vape systems could be banned in the UK have been described as ‘alarming’ and ‘misleading’ today.
The Sun on Sunday claimed that ‘millions of Brits face e-cigarettes being outlawed’ after the World Health Organization (WHO) allegedly called for open vape systems to be banned over potential safety fears.
Almost eight in ten of the UK’s 3.2 million vapers prefer the convenience of refillable (or open) systems which allow them to top up the devices as required.
A Department of Health spokesperson insisted that the government had no plans to ban e-cigarettes or vaping.
A spokesperson said: “Smoking is still the leading preventable cause of premature death and disease – killing almost 75,000 people in England in 2019.
“The best thing a smoker can do is to stop smoking altogether and evidence shows vaping is one of the most effective ways of getting people to do just that, helping around 50,000 people to quit the habit a year.”
Meanwhile, the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) said it was alarmed at the Sun story as it was not aware that any such report existed.
“On Sunday February 28, The Sun newspaper published an extremely misleading article about vaping which has since been picked up by the Daily Mail and some other news outlets.
“The article claimed that a WHO report, supposedly released by their tobacco regulatory committee and which recommends to ban open vape systems, might be acted upon by the UK government.
“What is puzzling about this story, is that we are not aware that such a report exists. For the sake of clarity, the IBVTA is clear in its belief that neither the WHO, nor any UK Government agency is suggesting that vaping should be banned in any form in the UK.”IBVTA Press Release
The Sun on Sunday report claimed that “millions of Brits” were facing a ban on vaping if “World Health Organization recommendations on outlawing e-cigarettes” were adopted.
It went on that that the move would also “spell bad news” for the 2,000 businesses in the vape sector which was worth more than £2billion.
UK vape advocates were dismayed at the report because the UK government is seen as a staunch supporter of vaping.
Only last week Public Health England released its 2021 evidence update which concluded that vaping was better than nicotine replacement therapy for stopping smoking.
Alarmingly, it also highlighted that as the number of vapers in England plateaus, “incorrect perceptions of its relative risks compared to smoking may be discouraging smokers from using vaping to quit.”
Industry advocates have long held that misleading reports in the mainstream media are one of the main reasons why smokers may be discouraged from turning to vaping instead.
The IBVTA added:
“It would be highly unlikely that the Government would pivot from their current supportive position on the basis of advice from the WHO, and ban the most effective and popular method of quitting used by the majority of vapers; open systems. This story therefore, appears to be a non-story. Misleading at best, at worst an outright case of “fake news.”IBVTA Press Release
Referring to the Public Health England evidence update, it added: “The IBVTA can only express disappointment that the UK media failed to notice this remarkably good news story, yet some were in favour of creating an alarming but totally misleading narrative over this past weekend.
This wealth of credible independent data has given the Government the confidence to take a more positive position towards vaping and the regulation of vaping. There is a thriving and responsible vape industry serving these consumers, and smoking rates are at a record low level.”
*Updated at 18:11 01/03/21 to include Department of Health comment.