EU Makes It Illegal For The UK To Promote Vaping Over Smoking

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

The U.K. government is stuck under the thumb of the European Union on public health issues, which bans advertising vaping over smoking.

The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) removed an advertisement promoting a vape shop Aug. 16 in the magazine The Journal. Under the E.U.’s Tobacco and Related Products Regulations for 2016, advertisements on e-cigarettes are restricted to trade only publications, reports Vaping Post.

The ASA folded on the issue after an anonymous complaint pointed out such advertisements broke the law under EU regulations.

“The law is even worse than this ruling implies,” Christopher Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute for Economic Affairs, told Vaping Post. “Even a generic appeal to smokers to switch to vaping would contravene the new E.U. Tobacco Products Directive. If the U.K. government ran a stop-smoking campaign on television that encouraged vaping, it would be breaking the law. It’s an absurd state of affairs.”

The EU rules put the U.K. in a particularly difficult situation when it comes to their policy efforts to curtail smoking. The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as a useful tool to quit smoking and eliminate second-hand risks to the public.

The department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to significantly slash the smoking rate in Britain and argues maximizing public access to vaping will help achieve this goal. The department also notes Brexit presents lawmakers with a chance to re-examine their stance on the issue and “identify where we can sensibly deregulate without harming public health.”

Health officials in the country hope greater access to e-cigarettes can bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022. The report states the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”

Public health experts focused on harm reduction hope that as Brexit moves forward, the government can undo the burdensome EU restrictions.

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