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Consumer advocacy groups request Google to abstain from banning vaping related apps

Last Autumn, in an open letter, Tobacco Free Kids demanded Google ban all vaping related apps from its app store, Google Play. Were all vaping related apps to be banned,  many current smokers and vapers would be deprived of valuable information about the potential of vaping.

Therefore, 35 organisations from around the world also sent a letter to Google urging them not to ban vaping apps.

Unfortunately, Google has not yet replied, but actions speak louder than words anyway so we hope Google will ignore these misinformed and populist demands to ban vaping apps and information

Here you can find the letter and all signatory organizations:

Dear Mr. Pichai,

We are contacting you in response to the letter from Tobacco Free Kids demanding the removal of all apps related to vaping you recently received to make sure you hear the full story on the issue of vaping apps.

Vaping saves lives and has been a lifeline for more than 68 million people around the world who have struggled to quit smoking. For them and millions of others who are considering quitting smoking, access to information is crucial.

The 35 organizations signing this letter are representing millions of vapers around the world and are convinced of the great harm reduction potential of vaping. We do not represent industries, we are only concerned about access to a life-saving alternative to smoking for adult consumers.

E-cigarettes should not be treated like traditional cigarettes. There is  no tar in e-cigarettes and most of the toxins in cigarettes are not present in e-cigarettes. In the UK, Public Health England estimated that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking and is recommending  that current smokers switch to electronic cigarettes (endorsed by the Royal College of Physicians and the Ministry of Health of the UK). In France, the public health authority names vaping as one of the efficient methods to quit smoking on their official quit smoking page.  Public health authorities in countries like Canada and New Zealand are doing the same. All the countries above lowered their smoking rates faster than countries which follow a more restrictive approach to vaping. Scientific evidence backs these actions in every case. A Cochrane review of more than 50 independent studies found that vaping is the most efficient way to quit smoking. Numerous other studies reached the same conclusion – quit rates increased significantly when vaping. (1)(2)(3)

Therefore restricting information about the potential of vaping to smokers will discourage current smokers from switching to less harmful alternatives. It would lower the probability of current smokers to switch to a less harmful alternative such as vaping.

Many of these apps are designed by enthusiastic ex-smokers and small and medium-sized businesses that seek to help and guide those who wish to find a less risky alternative to smoking.

The vaping market, contrary to what is said, is in the hands of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs and not of the big tobacco companies as they pretend to be.

Consequently, this will have a detrimental effect on public health. Policies promoting vaping have arguably achieved more in a short period of time than what lawmakers tried to accomplish for years: fewer people smoking cigarettes. Therefore, we urge you to continue your fight against smoking, but also to recognize the advantages of vaping and to not follow unscientific demands urging to ban apps that provide information and support regarding vaping on your platforms.

We share the opinion of Tobacco Free Kids and the signatories that nicotine administration products should not reach minors, since it is a product specially designed for adult smokers who seek alternatives to reduce the harm caused by smoking, but adults seeking to quit smoking and reduce the harms caused by smoking should be able to download the apps that can help fulfill this purpose. Google already proved its ability that content does not reach adolescents, with programs such as Family Link apps, YouTube kids and the restrictions on YouTube of content not suitable for minors. We know that Google has all the technological capacity to make this continue happening without depriving adults of information and choosing alternatives that can help to give up smoking.

Removing apps that guide and help adult smokers to find alternatives to stop smoking is to perpetuate smoking. Google has made the internet a diverse space that respects the decisions of users and we advocate that the decisions of adults to be informed and to make decisions that can improve their quality of life are respected.

We are asking you to ensure that adults can rely on facts when trying to quit cigarettes. Restricting information provided by vaping apps on Google Play has the potential to keep a lot of people smoking, rather than quitting.

We are calling on you to keep access to information about e-cigarettes open, the health and wellbeing of millions of people around the world depends on it. 

The signatory organizations and its partners are open to discussing and providing more evidence and information on this topic, should you need it.

Best regards,

AIDUCE – FRANCE

ACVODA – Netherland

ANESVAP (Spanish Association of Users of Personal Vaporizers)

ANPVU Italy

ARDT Iberoamerica

ARDT Panamá

Asovape Argentina

Asovape Chile

Asovape Colombia

Asovape Costa Rica

Asovape Ecuador

AsoVape Paraguay

Asovape Perú

Campaign for Safer Alternatives (CASA) – Africa

Chile no fuma, Vapea

Consumer Choice Center

Danish Vapers Association – Dansk e-Damper Forening

EUforsnus

Exraucher.org

Interessengemeinschaft E-Dampfen e.V.

México y El Mundo Vapeando

Nikan (Nikotinalliansen Norge)

NNA Sweden

Norsk Dampselskap/Norwegian Union of Vapers

Pro Vapeo México

Rights 4 Vapers Canada

SOVAPE – France

THR Brasil

THR Kenya

THR Nigeria

THR Uganda

Vapers Finland

Vaporaqui Brazil

VAPR Puerto Rico

World Vapers Alliance