We Vape

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Background

We Vape is a company that was set up by Mark Oates in 2020. The nature of its business is described as “Activities of political organisations”. 1

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Oates is a Fellow at the Adam Smith Institute (ASI),2 a think tank with a history of accepting funding and working closely with the tobacco industry. Companies House records show Oates is the Director of We Vape, which has one employee.1 Oates is also Director of the Snus Users Association.3

As of September 2022, We Vape does not disclose its funders on its website. We Vape has lobbied against the regulation of e-cigarettes and campaigns for their use as a smoking cessation tool.

Campaigned Against E-cigarette Regulation

Scotland

In June 2022, an investigation by The Ferret revealed We Vape had engaged with MessageSpace, a London-based public relations firm, to help them develop a lobbying campaign. The campaign, called #TellNicola, targeted a Scottish Government consultation into whether new rules should be introduced to limit the ways e-cigarettes can be advertised and promoted.4

MessageSpace managed Facebook adverts encouraging people to oppose the regulations and respond to the consultation which ran between February and April 2022.4 MessageSpace had been used in 2014 for an anti-plain packaging campaign launched by Forest. For more information, see industry funded third party campaigns against plain packaging.

We Vape also hired a mobile billboard in Edinburgh as part of the campaign. The advertisement read: “Tell Nicola to back vaping in Scotland. Vaping is safer than smoking.” In a campaign video to promote the event, Oates said the Scottish government’s proposals would “have a detrimental effect on the number of smokers who quit through vaping.”5

Wales

We Vape encouraged people to respond to the Welsh Government’s consultation on the “Tobacco control strategy for Wales and delivery plan”, which ran between November 2021 and March 2022. We Vape urged people to “inform them of the benefits of vaping and other harm reduction products.”6

COP 9 Lobbying

We Vape launched the #BackVapingSaveLives campaign to lobby the UK Government to support e-cigarettes on the “international stage” and ensure “harm reduction is front and centre to the FCTC and COP9 process”.7  The campaign launch event took place in July 2021 and among the speakers was Martin Cullip from the New Nicotine Alliance to discuss “how the UK can lead the world in embracing safer alternatives to smoking at COP9.”7 #BackVapingSaveLives consists of a postcard campaign, targeting British officials.

In November 2021, during the week of COP 9, We Vape organised a protest outside the UK Parliament which featured a mobile billboard bearing the slogan “COP 9 A COP OUT” and “BORIS BACK VAPING AT COP 9”.8 Mark Pawsey, who set up and is Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group  for Vaping attended the rally.8

For more information, see COP 9 & MOP 2: Interference by the Tobacco Industry and its Allies.

Tobacco Tactics Resources

Relevant Link

References

  1. abCompanies House, We Vape Project Limited, Company number 12791645, accessed September 2022.
  2. Adam Smith Institute, Fellows, undated, accessed September 2022
  3. Adam Smith Institute, Fellows and Senior Fellows, website, undated, accessed September 2021
  4. abS Rankin and B. Briggs, The Ferret: Holyrood vaping plans targeted by ‘astroturf’ campaign from London PR firm, The National, 5th June 2022, accessed September 2022.
  5. Scotland consultation into banning vape advertising, YouTube, 24 May 2022, accessed September 2022
  6. WeVape, Welsh Tobacco Consultation: A Smoke-Free Wales by 2030, WeVape website, undated, accessed September 2022.
  7. abFCTC is an international treaty that aims to reduce the demand and supply of tobacco. We Vape supports launch of UK COP9 campaign #BackVapingSavesLives, website, undated, archived July 2021, accessed September 2022
  8. abCOP9 2021 Threatens Vaping, But #BackVapingSaveLives Can Help, Vapegreen blog, 30 September 2021, archived 8 October 2021, accessed September 2022
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