As an emerging category driven by passionate consumers, regulating electronic vaping products (EVPs) is a challenge for regulators. There continues to be great controversy over EVPs and public health, and questions as to whether they are useful in tobacco harm reduction, or drive youngsters to tobacco. Aspect’s client has been at the forefront of this debate, in Europe and America, leading the drive for responsible regulation in the UK, France, Italy and the USA.
Our strategy has been to promote the category, not the company, and build confidence and credibility in the category based on sound scientific argument. We have built political support on the left and the right, using public health improvement and freedom to vape as key driving ideas. We have sought to build robust relationships with advocacy groups, think tanks, third-party institutions and media, so as to ensure the category itself is seen as legitimate and credible – and we have in turn leveraged those relationships to create a sense of urgency among politicians so that they grasp the huge public health opportunity that EVPs offer. This has enabled us to create a wide range of political allies, most notably in the UK. We have built a close relationship with the All Party Group for E-Cigarettes there, and have now created a similar support group in the Italian Parliament. In each country, the central strategy reflected local differences. In France, we have had to manage deep skepticism towards large companies entering the sector; in the US, we have had to manage a deeply engrained anti-tobacco lobby that does not accept that EVPs are not tobacco products. All of this has been done by playing out a real consumer and public debate. We have used social media to mobilise popular support; we have mobilised vapers to resist unfair legislation in the US and in Wales, where the government wanted to ban vaping in public places; and we have created infographics and animations to make our arguments accessible for media and other audiences, as part of a holistic political campaign.
In two and a half years, we have helped to transform the public debate on EVPs, delivering a significant shift in political attitudes. In the UK, the government has gone from being suspicious of EVPs to being the world’s biggest supporter of them – with Prime Minister David Cameron publicly endorsing e-cigarettes as a “legitimate” smoking cessation aid. Wales and Scotland have withdrawn negative provisions, while France is now considering EVPs more positively. Italy has cancelled unhelpful tax proposals, and the US is set for a major two year fight on regulation as the pro-EVP community has been mobilised.
Core services :
- Strategic advice and planning
- Coalition building
- Government and parliamentary relations
- Stakeholder mapping and outreach
- Media relations Network management