Strict enforcement backed up by tough penalties is the answer which will allow adults to benefit from the flavours which keep them off cigarettes.
I’ve lost count of the number of media interviews I’ve given over the years, but it must easily run into many hundreds by now, with my all-time record being 39 in a single day!
One theme which regularly crops up is the totally false claim from the anti-vaping lobby that flavours were created by the industry to introduce children to nicotine.
Many journalists lap this up and are happy to run this irresponsible falsehood without giving it too much thought while remaining totally oblivious to the actual reason that flavours are a vital component of a product aimed at adult smokers.
The last thing a typical former smoker who has successfully switched to vaping wants to experience is a product that mimics the taste of tobacco.
The tobacco flavour is used by many to transition from cigarettes but once that switch has been made many smokers would be happy never to experience the taste of tobacco again.
My usual response is that ‘child-friendly’ flavours such as strawberry and watermelon are chosen because they specifically appeal to adults and I will often mention that I am partial to a fruit or even bubble gum flavoured gin.
The reality is that flavoured nicotine vapes help keep former smokers off cigarettes and without them we would soon see a decrease in adult vaping numbers and a reversal in the decline of adult smoking.
With increasing calls from vaping opponents for the government to ban flavours, the UK Vaping Industry Association recently commissioned research on this very subject by asking vapers just how important flavoured e-liquids were to them.
Our survey found that 83 percent of vapers reported that flavoured vapes helped them quit smoking and that is a statistic that simply cannot be ignored.
It also revealed that one-in-three vapers feared that they would return to smoking if the government caved in to pressure to ban flavours and this could see as many as 1. 5 million former smokers switching back to cigarettes.
This would be a disaster for public health policy; torpedo the government’s smoke-free 2030 ambitions and devastate countless families as lovedones suffered chronic ill health and premature death.
Calls for a flavour ban are typically justified by saying they are vital to stop young people taking up vaping but our survey debunked this myth too.
The poll of 2,000 adult vapers found that 27 percent agreed there was a real need to tackle youth vaping but nearly four in ten want more effective enforcement handed out to retailers who are selling to children, rather than an outright ban.
In order to tackle youth vaping, the UKVIA has long called for effective enforcement backed up by fines of up to £10,000 per instance on irresponsible retailers who sell vapes to children.
We also want a new requirement for manufacturers to submit their product and vape packaging designs as part of the initial approvals process so that cartoon imagery, devices which look like children’s toys or branding mimicking sweets and candies never reach the shelves.
The problem does not come from vape flavours at all and if we focus on this then we are missing the point.
The sale of flavoured vape products to adults has been hugely instrumental in bringing the UK’s smoking rates down to an all-time low and this can help bring the numbers down even lower in years to come.
Instead, we need regulations that are tough and fit for purpose so that the rogue traders who are happy to sell to children finally realise that flouting the law could force them out of business.
We also need to ensure that adult vape products are not sold in appropriate locations such as sweet shops and we must clamp down on home delivery services that have inadequate or no age gating processes.