Dear Mayor Khan,
We note in your response to a London Mayoral question from Assembly Member Onkar Sahota on 22nd October that vaping adverts are currently not permitted on the London Underground, and that Transport for London “is currently reviewing its overall approach to Vaping advertising”.
While it is disappointing that a ban on advertising vaping products is in place on the tube, we are encouraged that the policy is wisely being reviewed.
In a comprehensive report, the highly respected Royal College of Physicians advised that organisations should “promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking” and that “smokers should be reassured that these products can help them quit”.
Prohibition of advertising has the opposite, damaging, effect to the RCP’s advice, so we hope you can fast-track the review to allow positive messages on the London Underground as to the benefits that vaping products could deliver to your smoking passengers.
E-cigarettes have been included as an option in the Stoptober campaign for three years now and the Advertising Standards Authority has been considering whether to amend its advice to allow health claims to be made for vaping products, as highlighted by Public Health England which has concluded they are at least 95% less harmful than smoking.
Public perception on the safer nature of reduced risk products like e-cigarettes has been on the wane recently due to alarmist tabloid media, so an intervention from TfL to permit vaping adverts across the entire London transport network would not only fit with current government health advice but could also make a significant positive contribution to the health of Londoners.
Vaping advertising is already prevalent on London buses, so it would seem consistent to also allow the same messages to be presented to travellers on tube trains too. The government’s Tobacco Control Plan aspires to “maximise the availability of safer alternatives to smoking” and recognises the potential of products which reduce harm to smokers who choose to quit. This can only be achieved by promoting the existence of those products, and you have it in your power to enable publicity of them to the millions of daily travellers on the Underground, many of whom will be smokers.
As a consumer-led charity which advocates for a wider recognition of tobacco harm reduction products and has engaged with government and public health NGOs for many years, we would welcome meeting you or your delegated colleagues to discuss the policy area in more detail. We would also ask that you add us as a stakeholder so that we may be updated on plans for vaping advertising on London Transport in the future.