Vaping Industry Clashes with Public Health Minister Over Proposed Licensing System

The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has penned a letter to the Prime Minister expressing their dissatisfaction with remarks made by Public Health Minister Andrea Leadsom to the Tobacco & Vapes Bill Committee.

As the Bill was progressing through Parliament, the committee was examining evidence related to the bill. Leadsom’s response to the suggestion of a licensing system for vape retailers was dismissive.

She stated, “It is a licence for the vaping industry to get rid of the competition, make loads more money and focus even more on addicting children to vapes. It is the most cynical of all the cynical proposals I have seen. I am literally in no way in support of a licensing regime. I see lots of nods around the room; I hope that my personal view is clear and am glad that it seems to be shared by a number of honourable Members.”

The UKVIA is the largest UK vape association with around 100 members, which recently removed all tobacco-owned companies, such as VUSE (British American Tobacco) and JUUL from its membership. It has been promoting a licensing system that would be fully financed by the vaping industry, providing Trading Standards with over £50m annually to effectively regulate underage and illegal vape sales.

Earlier this year, the industry presented a detailed plan for a vape retailer and distributor licensing system to parliamentarians. The scheme’s development involved consultations with the industry and other stakeholders, including representatives from Trading Standards.

John Dunne, Director General of UKVIA, said that Leadsom’s comments sparked a wave of “dismay and outrage” among many leaders in the UK vaping industry.

He stated, “Enforcement of the laws, which are in place to protect young people from vaping, has failed to date due to lack of investment by the Government, so the only way to deal with the matter once and for all is to equip Trading Standards with the resources to police retailers… As to the Minister’s comments on the licensing scheme they are false and completely inappropriate. They are disrespectful to the legitimate independent vaping industry that wants to do the right thing.”

Some UKVIA members also chimed into the debate, with Pascal Culverhouse, CEO of vaping retailer The Electric Tobacconist having this to say, “There is no base to the claims this scheme would remove competition and this is not what it’s about. The scheme would merely make it easier for everyone selling vapes to be held to account, making the industry more trusted in the process.”

The debate will go on, not least because the Tobacco & Vapes Bill Committee looks set to be heavily delayed or indeed canned due to the calling of July’s General Election. It is expected to be re-visited regardless of the outcome of the election, not least because Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has voiced support for certain elements of the proposal, particularly the incremental smoking ban, which would see cigarette sales banned for anyone born after the year 2009. This part of the legislation is all-but certain to be discussed again in Parliament in the near future, but once again the future of vaping is at a crossroads. 

Tatiana Rehmova

A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason, Tatiana works in Media Relations and is the Content Producer. She loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships.