Mark Oates said: “Currently around 60% of smokers either don’t know if vaping is safer than smoking or think it is actually as dangerous. This has been caused by the large amount of irresponsible misinformation and scare stories in the media relating to vaping. To tackle this Government needs to do more to make sure public health messages around switching to vaping are getting through.
“They need to change labelling on cigarette packets to specifically state vaping is safer than smoking and helps you quit.
“The NHS is doing a brilliant job with its vaping shops in hospitals and there have been initiatives to give vaping starter packs to the homeless – one of the most vulnerable groups in our society. Great – but build more shops, give out more packs and hammer the message home that this support is available, Government backed and there is a real determination to eliminate smoking.
“We are on the side of smokers who want to remove the fear that inherently comes with smoking and reduce the chances of developing the horrible diseases caused by this insidious and dated practice.
“We have the tools to win the fight. The Government just needs the will to apply them.”
With COP9 fast approaching Oates discussed how important it was for the UK Government to stand up for vaping at the influential international meeting.
He said: “The UK is one of the most supportive Governments in the world on harm reduction. However, our approach needs a confident defence at this year’s COP9, both in order to prevent international agreements hindering our approach in future and so that other countries might follow our lead and implement similar policies which will help reduce smoking and save lives in the long term.”
Rounding up, Oates pointed out that this was no time to be complacent.
“As it stands we are going to struggle to meet the 2030 smoke free target and every year we miss this target means thousands more preventable deaths.
“We need our leaders to not only acknowledge but promote the message to smokers vaping will help you quit and could save your life.”