There is no arguing that sports sponsorship was a longstanding and effective form of indirect advertising for the tobacco industry. It was often criticised for increasing the uptake of smoking among young people.
It is natural the question would now be asked – are vaping brands acting equally irresponsibly by sports partnerships for promotion? Are Vaping brand sponsorships in sport controversial?
The most distinct difference that needs to be addressed, is that the tobacco companies’ undeniable intent was to get people hooked on smoking.
This was so that they could unscrupulously profit from their addiction.
Vaping brands and products, on the other hand, exist for the purpose of helping smokers to give up cigarettes. They have proved to be one of the most effective smoking cessation tools available.
As a successful business founded and rooted in Blackburn. Totally Wicked is privileged to be in a position to invest back into our local area. We have long standing successful partnerships with St Helens R.F.C  and Blackburn Rovers F.C. 
While these partnerships provide valuable funds to local teams and initiatives, they also allow us to promote an important message to fans.
Vaping brand sponsorships in sport are more than that. At Totally Wicked our mission has remained since we were founded in 2008 – to empower smokers to transform their lives. 
In the 13 years since Totally Wicked was born as a business, vaping has represented a consumer led public health revolution.
Even the most conservative figures estimate that over 2.4 million people in the UK have given up smoking using e-cigarettes in that time. A similar number have been able to cut down considerably. This revolution was very much born in Blackburn.
Influence of vaping brands and sport sponsorships
Vaping is now recognised by Public Health England, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training, Cancer Research UK, ASH and the Royal College of Physicians.
It’s also seen by numerous other public health bodies not only as being 95% safer than smoking, but as being the number one stop smoking tool in the UK.
Studies have shown that smokers are twice as likely to quit successfully using vaping than other methods.
In recently updated guidance, The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommended that all Stop Smoking Services and initiatives ensure they include vaping as part of their offering.
“Nicotine is the chemical that makes cigarettes addictive. But it is not responsible for the harmful effects of smoking. Nicotine does not cause cancer, and people have used nicotine replacement therapy safely for many years. E-cigarettes do not contain tobacco, which is the harmful part of cigarettes.” Cancer Research UK
The tobacco industry’s involvement in sports sponsorship contrasts starkly with this story. For decades, big-money tobacco brands were some of the biggest sponsors of sporting clubs and events. Every major league team had a cigarette sponsor.
Visit any football match or F1 race and the stands would be adorned with the branding and advertising of the big global tobacco brands.
These brands were happy to invest large amounts of funding for the exposure that sponsoring high profile sporting events offered them. For many clubs, they represented a reliable and well-needed revenue stream.
Stop smoking brand support
As health organisations and the general public have become increasingly aware of the dangers of smoking, it was clear that cigarette marketing in sports was irresponsible and inappropriate.
In the UK, the Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act 2002 prohibited most advertising on billboards and in printed publications. Forward to July 2005, tobacco sponsorship of all international sports events was banned.
In the wake of the ban, teams have had to turn to alternative sponsorship deals to secure investment.
For many of these cases, alcohol brands and betting sites rapidly took over this advertising space.
While the morality of using such influential events to promote drinking and gambling is often called into question, the partnerships that have perhaps caused the most controversy for some is sponsorship by vaping brands.
During 2019, the tobacco giant British American Tobacco returned to Formula One for the first time in 13 years after securing a global sponsorship with McLaren.
They were previously forced to end all sports sponsorships in 2016.
Emblazoning their vaping brands across cars, they were accused by many of exploiting a loophole in advertising regulations to allow them to return to motorsport advertising.
Vaping isn’t risk free, but carries a tiny fraction of the risk of smoking. It continues to save millions of lives globally every year.
As part of our ambition to make quitting accessible and achievable for every smoker, Totally Wicked supports many Local Authority and Independent Stop Smoking services.
This includes a number of NHS smoking cessation initiatives nationwide.
Our sports partnerships allow us to spread this message even further. This encourages more people to ‘make the switch’ to a healthier alternative.