Authorities in Britain have decided to end a ban on vaping health claims ads and the decision is backed by a medical and public health organizations and research showing the relative safety of vaping compared to smoking.
Guest post by William Furney
Authorities in Britain have decided to end a ban on vaping firms advertising health claims associated with using e-cigarettes, supported by a large number of medical and public health organisations, and backed up by a growing body of research that shows vaping is nearly completely harmless compared to deadly smoking.
It’s another sign of the country’s progressive stance towards vaping at a time when many others, including the United States, have either banned vaping or are considering restrictions on the use of e-cigarettes and the e-liquid they contain.
UK health authorities are doing everything they can to try to bring down the annual death toll from smoking in the four-nation country comprising England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland — currently around 100,000 lives lost a year — and many are seeing vaping as crucial in saving people from tobacco-related deaths.
Now, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has gone ahead and ended a prohibition on vape firms advertising health claims for their products.
More general advertising restrictions on vape products remain, including advertising them on mass media such as on TV and in newspapers. However, earlier this year, a parliamentary committee recommended those limitations be lifted so that more people might vape instead of smoke.
Consultations on Vaping Ads
Before the ASA overturned its ban on vaping health claims ads for vaping products, the self-regulatory body embarked on a lengthy period of consultation with a wide range of medical and public health organisations, vaping and tobacco companies, universities, private individuals and even one doctor, who responded to the authority’s questions in a private capacity.
The ASA wanted to know if they agreed with its proposal to lift its restriction on health claims for nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, and those supporting the plan gave 11 reasons why the authority should go ahead.
One of the main reasons was the recent research by Public Health England into vaping, which said e-cigarettes are almost 95% safer than smoking.
Respondents also cited a study from the Royal College of Physicians, which fully supports vaping and says e-cigarettes should be “widely promoted” as a leading smoking-cessation method.
“The scientific evidence is sufficiently strong to permit generic health claims to be made by advertisers that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoked tobacco and that vaping is therefore significantly less harmful than smoking,” those in favour of an end to the ban on vaping health claims ads said.
But they warned that the health aspects of vaping would be negligible if a smoker carried on smoking while also vaping, and that the health benefits of vaping were only felt compared to smoking, so that an e-cigarette in itself could not be deemed a health product.
Evidence-Based Vaping Health Claims
Respondents also told the ASA that any health claims for using e-cigarettes — which are now widely available in high-street shops as well as online, where consumers looking to vape can read reviews on the best e-cig in the UK, which includes the popular Phix brand — would have to be backed up by evidence such as studies or research.
They also said there was “a well-evidenced misperception” among the public that vaping is not healthier than smoking and that this was a cause for concern.
“These misperceptions,” they said, “potentially discourage smokers who might otherwise switch to vaping from doing so, or where they have switched make it more likely that they continue dual use; and may make it more likely that vapers who have quit using electronic cigarettes revert back to smoking. The current rules prevent this misperception being corrected.”
Those who were against the ASA lifting its ban on vaping health claims ads said there was no evidence looking into the long-term health aspects of vaping. However, a major study published earlier this year, which closely followed vapers over a two-year period, found no health problems with sustained e-cigarette use.