Nearly one million vapers will return to cigarettes if vaping flavours are banned, according to a nationwide poll (links at the bottom of this article).
A sample study showed 21% of the UK’s estimated 4.5million e-cig users were prepared to smoke again if government plans to apply restrictions come into force.
The results come just before the government’s public consultation into creating a smoke-free generation ended on Wednesday (December 6).
Government plans to ban disposable and flavours to protect kids. But campaigners have warned such a move would increase smoking rates while having little impact on underage vaping.
The e-cigarette poll, which was carried out by Focaldata and commissioned by campaign group We Vape, surveyed more than 2000 vapers and non-vapers across the UK over one week.
Of them, 33% of respondents said flavours were extremely important and 37% very important.
Another million said they would source their flavoured vapes from abroad and 14% would use the black market, where products are unregulated and potentially dangerous.
Worryingly, a further 12% said they would be forced to try and make their own DIY flavours at home in order to stop them going back to smoking.
We Vape founder Mr Oates added…
“These results are deeply worrying and clearly suggest a ban on flavours and disposable vapes will drive people who have quit smoking through vaping back to cigarettes.
“Flavours are a crucial factor for adults making the switch.
“It gives them the nicotine they need, without the tar. Just because you ban something it doesn’t mean the demand goes away and it is shocking to see 12% of vapers polled said they would consider trying to make their own flavours at home, which is highly dangerous.
“The evidence suggests government plans are going to be counterproductive and actually increase smoking. This hurts the NHS with the cost of long-term treatment, the individual who is facing death or serious illness and puts England even further behind the government’s 2030 smoke-free target.”
The alarming figures follow earlier reports a further million e-cig users will smoke again if disposable vapes are outlawed.
Following the government consultation, one of Health Secretary Victoria Atkin’s first projects could see the implementation of banning flavours and disposable vapes.
The move followed criticism of brightly coloured vapes and exotic flavours, which campaigners feared might tempt children to buy the age-restricted products.
TikTok has been a popular site for minors promoting illicit vapes, which are unregulated and often proven to be dangerous.
Last month Trading Standards officers and West Midlands Police in Birmingham seized more than 1,000 illegal devices at a store ‘openly displaying vapes which had an astonishingly high puff count of up to 9,000’.
However, claims that flavour and disposables prohibition will be effective contradict new evidence from the states, which suggests banning flavours could increase not only cigarette smoking in adults but also in children.
Yale University research across 375 US localities and seven states, which have applied flavour restrictions to impact youth vaping, showed for every flavoured vape pod not sold – 15 more cigarettes were in its place.
Worse, many of those buying the tobacco instead of vapes were underage.
The research concluded…
“Matching new flavour policy data to retail sales data, we find a trade-off of 15 additional cigarettes for everyone less pod sold due to flavour restrictions.
“Further, cigarette sales increase even among brands disproportionately used by underage youth. Thus, any public health benefits may be offset by public health costs from increased cigarette sales.”
Sweden is set to become the first country in Europe to hit smoke-free status – when less than 5% of the population light up – by Christmas. The Public Health Agency of Sweden has credited vaping, snus – which is illegal in the UK – and nicotine pouches.
The UK has followed a harm reduction model, with the NHS handing out vaping starter kits to smokers.
The World Health Organisation, however, continues to deny vaping is an effective way to stop smoking.
See the poll here: