We Vape Director Mark Oates Speaks at the World Vape Show

World Vape Show Panel Discusses 6 Threats to Vaping

Following his successful panel appearance at the World Vape Show in the Excel Centre, we caught up with Mark Oates, Director of We Vape to discuss the biggest threats to vaping and other harm reduction alternatives.

World Vape Show, London 2021

The World Vape Show is an international vaping expo and conference. Alongside showcasing new products, they host awards, exhibitions, conferences, and live discussions.

One interesting discussion was the panel on consumer advocacy chaired by Martin Cullip. Mark Oates was joined by:

  • Tom Gleeson, co-founder, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA)/ NNA Ireland
  • Peter Beckett, Co-Founder and Chief Strategic Officer, vaping.com 

The panel discussed the most significant threats to vaping over the coming months and years and what we can do as consumers to mitigate these risks.

We spoke with Mark to get his take on what we all need to watch out for.

1) We can’t get comfortable

“As vapers, we’re in a good position in the U.K. The PHE and the NHS are broadly supportive of vaping. Government regulatory bodies, like MHRA, have suggested that vaping should be recommended as a cessation aid by the NHS,” Mark notes. “But we can’t afford to relax. Rule changes could happen at any point, so we need to keep on engaging our politicians.” 

2) Use Our Power

“Vapers need to engage M.P.s across the political aisle. Send posts, such as on the We Vape website, use your vote, or email your local M.P.s.” Mark suggests. “Politicians actually listen to this stuff.”

Mark Oates Director of We Vape speaks to the media about the #BackVapingSaveLives campaign

3) What Organisations or Bodies Pose Existential Threat for Vaping?

Unfortunately, as Mark and the panel pointed out, there are several. Firstly, the World Health Organization and the E.U. are some of the biggest threats to vaping. “COP9 put off recommending stricter regulations until the next event, Panama’s COP 10 in 2023. But we need to be on guard. It’s not just U.K. vaping that can be affected; these governing bodies could have disastrous effects on harm reduction worldwide.”

4) Countering Misinformation

Another threat the World Vape Show panel discussed was public misinformation. “Public opinion on the safety of vaping when compared to cigarettes is surprisingly ill-informed. Even today, about one-third of Britons believe vaping is as harmful as smoking.”

Scare stories in the news and social media are a significant factor here. “The public needs more information so they can make informed choices. We can all help by communicating the benefits of vaping in person or through media channels.”

5) Scottish Tobacco Consultation

Scotland has a notoriously high smoking rate of around 17% in 2021. The government has committed to raising a tobacco-free generation by 2034 and is considering a wide range of promotional and advertising bans. 

“The worry is that vaping and other nicotine products will get caught in the slipstream of tobacco ban. If Holyrood wants to reduce smoking, vaping should be part of any sensible strategy.”

While there is some suggestion that Holyrood is “changing direction” on vaping, further consultations will ultimately determine what course the Scottish government takes. There could be a huge missed opportunity for harm reduction in a market that needs it the most without good representation and information.

We Vape Member Carl tells his story about how vaping helped him quit smoking.

6) Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) and the Tobacco Control Plan

The U.K.s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations (TRPR) are currently under review. The findings of consultation between January and March 2021 will be released sometime this year. 

Similarly, the government will soon publish details of its new Tobacco Control Plan. The plan aims to help the U.K. go smoke-free by 2030. Vaping and other harm reduction products will be essential to this effort. “Hopefully, the government continues to move towards harm reduction,” Mark suggests. 

Regarding the Tobacco Control Plan, Mark Pawsey MP made some recommendations in the Express on Sunday. He believes the new plan should loosen current advertising restrictions to ensure current smokers have more information on vaping and other reduced-risk alternatives, like nicotine pouches.