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These are challenging times for all those involved in the vape industry.  Responsible companies up and down the country, from individual vendors to manufacturers and importers, are all working hard to ensure that they can meet the regulatory deadlines set out in the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and transposed into UK law as the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016.

These challenges will not go away following the implementation of these regulations.

As a response, some of the UK’s leading independent vendors, manufacturers, distributors, and importers came together at the beginning of this year to form the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA).  These companies felt that if the independent industry was to rise to the challenges it faces and take advantage of future opportunities, it was vital that it spoke with a united, informed, and professional voice.

The mission of IBVTA is to provide credible knowledge and guidance to support the independent vaping sector and promote constructive interaction between this industry sector and the scientific community, vapers, regulators, policy makers, and the general public.  IBVTA fosters research and manufacturing excellence in order to deliver a robust yet proportionate consumer regulatory landscape that adequately reflects the needs of vaping stakeholders and recognises vaping as a sector in its own right.

Unlike other associations in this sector, IBVTA is fiercely independent, it is also established as a not-for-profit organisation.  All IBVTA members are free from any ownership or control by the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries.

From offices in the heart of Westminster, a short walk from Whitehall and the Houses of Parliament, IBVTA’s secretariat beavers away in defence of our members’ interests.  Hardly a day goes by when we are not meeting with civil servants, politicians, or appearing in the media, and not just in London.

IBVTA is truly a member-led organisation and unlike other associations, works on a collaborative basis for the good of the independent industry.  One example of this is our Science and Regulatory Committee which is made up of scientists, engineers, pharmacists, toxicologists, and regulatory experts drawn from across our membership.

Working with our members, IBVTA is now recognised by many politicians, some in the media, and officials in and around Whitehall as the credible and professional voice of the independent vape industry.  This is reflected in the level of access we have been able to secure and the results we have been able to deliver on behalf of our members.

As an example, IBVTA recently held an event where 10 members met with the Committee on Advertising Practice at our offices to discuss the current consultation on the new advertising regulations.  Earlier that day we took one of our vendor members to meet with officials from HM Treasury and HMRC to discuss the subject of additional taxation for vape products – it goes without saying that IBVTA is opposed to such proposals.

To further represent our members, IBVTA works closely with similar organisations across the EU and recently joined forces with some of these organisations to form the European Coalition for Independent Vape (ECIV).

It is important not to dwell too much on the challenges, these are also exciting times for the independent vape industry.

Currently there are at least 2.8 million vapers in the UK.  All of whom are now smoking significantly fewer or no tobacco cigarettes as a direct result.  This should be a cause for celebration.

The UK has a thriving independent vape industry providing these consumers with a wide range of quality vape products.  According to one recent study, vaping is now the fastest growing industry in the UK and after the United States is the second largest market for vape products in the world.

IBVTA’s growing membership collectively employs thousands of people throughout the UK.  These companies manufacture locally and export globally.  Increasingly these companies also provide opportunities for high skilled employment in the fields of engineering, design, toxicology, regulatory affairs, and science.

The UK’s independent vape industry has a global reputation for quality and innovation.  Combine this with the enlightened approach many in the public health field have taken towards vaping, and the positive attitudes within Public Health England, the MHRA, and the Department of Health, then the UK really does have the potential to become a global leader in vaping; both in terms of shaping the global policy environment, and also in generating exports and boosting the UK economy.

Currently there are 15 million people who vape within the EU and millions more in the rest of the world.  If you add to this the estimated one billion people globally who still smoke, then there is a tremendous opportunity for the UK’s independent vape industry to not just help these billion smokers switch to vaping, but also to boost UK trade and exports, and generate jobs and new businesses in the UK.

This opportunity will only be realised if the regulatory and fiscal environment in which our industry operates is proportionate.

As a responsible trade association, IBVTA is not anti-regulation, on the contrary.  Our members want to work with policy makers to deliver robust, proportionate, and fit for purpose regulation.  Under such a regime vaping would flourish and achieve its full potential in providing a viable and significantly less harmful alternative to tobacco products as well as providing a significant and much needed boost to the UK economy.

ibvta-richard-hyslop

Richard Hyslop

Chief Executive

Independent British Vape Trade Association

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