Scottish Government plans to tighten the rules on vaping advertisement-What does this mean for vape stores and smokers trying to quit?

As worries grow about underage vaping, the Scottish Government has proposed to ban all advertising of vaping products . Many in the industry feel this is a very reactionary response that has little consideration for the impact this will have on smokers. Mark Oates from the Adam Smith Institute said ‘the strategy currently being considered is ill thought through and could lead to more smokers dying’. As part of this the Scottish Government has launched a consultation to gather the opinions of the proposed plans. So, let’s take a look at what is actually being proposed.

What is the proposal?
The Tobacco Control Action Plan was introduced in 2018 and aims to reduce the use of tobacco and the associated harm in Scotland. As part of this a consultation has been set up to gain an understanding of the public perception of these plans. The consultation asks members of the public for their opinions on banning the following:

·Advertising and brand-sharing
·Free distribution and reduced pricing

The reasoning behind this is that they believe vaping products should only be exposed to smokers. This means no one else should be able to see vaping adverts or promotions.

How will this impact smokers in Scotland?
As with many of these proposals put forward, it treats vaping like smoking rather than a safer alternative to help save lives. The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) acknowledges that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. However, government proposals never seem to take this into consideration.

If these plans go ahead, it will make it even harder for smokers to access safer alternatives to cigarettes. It will also reinforce the false perception that vaping is just as harmful as smoking making it harder to de-normalise cigarette use.

Until smoking has been mostly eliminated from the market, these types of restrictions only damage the progress vaping has made in helping people quit.

As vaping is still unfamiliar to many smokers it is important that we can use advertising and promotions to encourage people to switch to a safer alternative while providing educational information.

For example, in a convenience store where a smoker will traditionally go to buy a pack of cigarettes it is crucial that safer alternatives are advertised clearly. Although non smokers will still see this, it shouldn’t impact their purchase as they don’t intent to purchase products containing nicotine.

Another blow to vape stores
After an extremely difficult 2 years for vape stores with lockdowns, many have struggled to survive and some have had to close down completely. These are the businesses that work everyday to help save lives by helping smokers to quit. By introducing these restrictions, it will be another massive hurdle for these businesses. With less ways of reaching out this could result in more stores closing. As a result, there will be fewer stores people can visit to find an alternative to cigarettes.

Alternative ideas
Although there is a well-intended purpose for these restrictions, it will also make it harder to demoralise smoking in Scotland. E-cigarettes are one of the best tools to displace smoking. Rather than hiding these products or treating them the same as smoking, the government should look at ways to effectively promote these products to smokers in an educational manner that doesn’t appeal to under 18s.

It is important to tackle underage use so more action should be taken on specific cases of selling to under 18s. This will help to tackle the issue while also not punishing stores who follow challenge 25 policies.