US vaping company Juul lobbies MPs in Britain to lift restrictions on e-cigarette adverts in the UK after Brexit
- US vaping giant Juul wants the UK lift rules on nicotine content after Brexit
- It also wants to relax the ban on vaping ads on TV, print and on radio
- The firm already lobbied to remove a health claim ban from UK e-cig adverts
- The European Union tightly regulates the sale and supply of e-cigarettes
America’s largest vaping firm is lobbying officials to lift restrictions on the strength and advertising of e-cigarettes in the UK.
Juul is campaigning for strict rules limiting the nicotine content of e-cigarettes to be stripped back after Brexit.
It is also wants a relaxation of the ban on vaping adverts in print, TV and radio.
US vaping giant Juul wants the government to increase the amount of nicotine permissible in its products if Britain leaves the European Union
The company has already successfully lobbied the government to allow it to promote the health benefits of using its products
A document obtained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism under the Freedom of Information Act reveals that in October 2018, Juul asked the Government to ‘immediately’ end the ban from making any health claims for e-cigarettes in ads.
The next month, the Government scrapped that veto, allowing companies to trumpet health benefits as Juul had requested.
It is already exploiting a loophole to target adverts at children as young as 15 in the UK, despite a ban on the sale or marketing of e-cigarettes to under-18s.
Juul, which sells them in high street stores including Boots, has been blamed for an epidemic of nicotine addiction in American children. Its high-nicotine US ‘pods’ contain nearly triple the legal limit in Britain. Only last week experts said e-cigarettes could ‘create a generation of nicotine addicts’, adding that vaping can damage the heart and lungs. Ewan Fisher, 19, of Nottingham, also told how he almost died from serious respiratory failure after vaping.
E-cigarettes are much more tightly regulated in Britain than in America. The US row has forced Juul to pull all adverts in the US and pledge to stop lobbying in Washington. And on Tuesday the American Medical Association called for an immediate ban on all e-cigarettes. But Juul is still advertising in Britain and is undertaking a major lobbying operation in Westminster. Current EU laws limit e-cigarette advertising and restrict the level of nicotine in liquids and flavours used.
The Government has already committed to a post-Brexit review of the EU’s regulations. Juul asked ministers for changes to mandatory warning labels which now say ‘nicotine is highly addictive’ – and instead wanted labels saying e-cigarettes are much safer than tobacco. In September, Juul ran an advert in UK cinemas before screenings of action film Angel Has Fallen, rated 15.
But it escaped censure by exploiting a loophole meaning its ads are allowed to run if fewer than a quarter of the audience are children.
Matt Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, said: ‘It’s hard to miss the irony that Juul and its defenders point to the UK, where it claims smoking cessation is up and no youth crisis exists, even as it is fighting to undermine the very laws and regulations that have prevented the youth epidemic in the UK.’
E-cigarettes are said to have helped between 50,000 and 70,000 Britons quit smoking each year. Public Health England insists the devices are an essential quit-smoking tool and claim e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco.
But Professor Martin McKee, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: ‘It’s insane. The trick is to get people addicted to nicotine and that’s going to be easier with higher concentrations so it’s not surprising that [the industry] wants to do that… But why would we want to when we’ve seen what has happened in the US?’
A spokesman for Juul said: ‘We not only follow local regulations, we go above and beyond to combat the issue of youth access, appeal and use of vapour products – while at the same time ensuring that adult smokers maintain access to a product that is helping millions of them switch from combustible cigarettes.’