Tobacco and Vapes Bill

Written evidence submitted by Arcus Compliance Ltd to the Tobacco and Vapes Bill Public Bill Committee (TVB40)

Dear Committee Members,

Arcus Compliance Ltd acts within the vaping sector to ensure regulatory compliance with the various regulations that affect vaping products. We do not have and investment or connections to the Tobacco Industry.

As an organisation we are significantly concerned with some of the potential restrictions that may be placed on legal vaping products, in our opinion many of these restrictions that may be imposed are as a result of the illegal vape market which over the last 3-4 years has been allowed through a lack of enforcement to grow equal to and possibly larger than the regulated legal vape market.  It should also be noted that the vape industry has been calling for greater enforcement of illegal products, reporting numerous bad actors for over 3 years.

My primary concern is that the UK may be about to put in place restrictions on legal vape products that will represent the single greatest public health misstep in history.

Let’s first address the misconceptions surrounding vaping. Contrary to popular belief, legal e-cigarettes are substantially safer than traditional cigarettes, as attested by numerous studies (indeed please see the Khan review). While it’s prudent to acknowledge that they’re not entirely risk-free, especially in the absence of long-term data, the harm reduction potential cannot be overstated. Yet, the knee-jerk reaction to restrict vaping products persists, fuelled by unsubstantiated fears and misplaced priorities.

One argument against vaping centres on its potential appeal to youth. Indeed, concerns about experimentation among minors are valid and warrant attention. However, conflating occasional vaping with addiction overlooks crucial nuances. Most youth who try vaping do so out of curiosity, not addiction-a fact often lost in sensationalist narratives. Moreover, evidence suggests that those prone to regular vaping are likely predisposed to smoking, raising the pertinent question: would restricting vaping truly deter them from nicotine consumption, or merely redirect them towards a more harmful alternative? No child should vape or smoke, additional resources in schools should be afforded so that students are educated regarding harm reduction.

Moreover, the proposed regulations on vaping seem disproportionately stringent when juxtaposed with the leniency afforded to alcohol. Despite its well-documented links to cancer and mortality, alcohol enjoys relative immunity from similar scrutiny. The irony of advocating for flavour bans and plain packaging for vaping products while alcohol continues to flourish in enticing packaging and diverse flavours is not lost on rational observers, but are seemingly lost on MP’s and the general public.  I would also like to point out that the argument that vaping flavours such as ‘bubblegum’, ‘wildberry’ and ‘vanilla popsicle’ also exist in the condom market and by using the same argument, are we promoting underage sex in the use of flavours and bright packaging?  

The efficacy of vaping as a smoking cessation tool further underscores the need for a recalibration of regulatory priorities. Studies consistently demonstrate its effectiveness in aiding smokers to quit-a feat unmatched by traditional nicotine replacement therapies. Flavours, often maligned as a tactic to lure youth, play a pivotal role in this success, making the proposed flavour bans counterproductive to public health goals.

It’s time for a more nuanced discussion-one that acknowledges both the potential risks and benefits of vaping. Instead of reflexive overregulation, policymakers should prioritize evidence-based approaches that balance harm reduction with youth protection. Restrictive measures that impede access to safer alternatives only serve to perpetuate the cycle of addiction and undermine public health objectives.

It may also be a consideration of the committee to differentiate between C stores and dedicated vape shops. By allowing the latter to sell a greater array of products and flavours on open display in the vape store the legal market would by default become easier to control.

I trust that you will accept my comments with kind consideration and look to the scientific evidence. I would like to finally add that I was disappointed that the neither the UKVIA or IBVTA were asked to provided verbal evidence to committee, the UKVIA does not have any tobacco members or interests in the Tobacco industry, I recognise that this is a relatively new position for them, however the IBVTA has never had any links with Tobacco and their exclusion appears to be completely unwarranted.

May 2024


Prepared 14th May 2024