In recent years, the United Kingdom hasn't been held up as a last bastion of sanity and forward-thinking for many things, particularly given the current political climate, but their attitude toward vaping and vape culture appears to be an exception.
According to Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians, vaping is 95 percent less dangerous than smoking, and the UK has one of the most stringent regulatory systems in the world. The following rules apply:
- Minimum standards on safety and quality
- Notification of ingredients
- Packaging and labeling requirements
- A ban on advertising in print, broadcast and online
- A ban on sales of e-cigarette products to U-18’s, and on purchase by adults on behalf of U-18’s
Not only do these regulations seem like good old-fashioned common sense, the statistics seem to show that they work.
Recognized as safer than cigarettes
According to a 2018 Public Health England study, vaping in the UK has reached a plateau of just under 3 million people, they are helping up to 20,000 people quit smoking each year, and perhaps most significantly, “the evidence does not support the concern that e-cigarettes are a path into smoking for young people...”
Vaping is uncommon among young people, according to ASH research published in June of last year, and they vape primarily for the purpose of trying it out rather than to look cool.
It's difficult to argue that those figures are unrelated to existing rules and controls. While all of the regulations mentioned above are unquestionably relevant, one of their side effects might be even more so.
No space for the black market
To a large degree, the UK has abolished the black market by actively committing to legalization and regulating vaping. And it is because of the absence (or near-elimination) of the black market that the UK has avoided any of the issues that the United States experienced last year.
There will be no nasty consequences when the goods are used if all of the substances sold are known to the seller, the consumer, and can be trusted.
The role of advertising
One of the most significant distinctions between the United States and the United Kingdom is how vaping is sold and who can see it. The advertising standards in the United Kingdom are much tighter, with the key point being that these laws keep vaping ads out of the hands of children.
Vaping companies also have a much smaller social media presence, which should not be overlooked, particularly among younger people. Vaping is instead distributed by word of mouth and start-up-style marketing. Because of the protected framework already in place, everybody knows the goods are secure and trusts them.
Where Do We Go Now?
In simple terms, research continues to show that a controlled economy is much healthier and safer than a market pushed underground by prohibition on both sides of the Atlantic. Although bans have been enacted in countries such as Thailand, Japan, and Singapore, US health officials have only committed to a partial ban covering the selling of the flavored e-cigarettes that are common among teenagers.
The new rules would “prohibit fruit, candy, mint, and dessert flavors from thin, cartridge-based e-cigarettes that are popular with high school students,” according to The Telegraph. Menthol and tobacco-flavored e-cigarettes, on the other hand, will be permitted to continue to be sold.”. Although President Trump recently signed legislation increasing the minimum age to purchase tobacco and vaping items from 18 to 21 years old.
While the new regulations tighten existing controls, they also signal a shift in the government's position, as the President and those around him had previously advocated for a complete ban.