Saints lucrative re-naming of its stadium after a vaping company and other marketing schemes like it have been questioned by Britain’s top GP.
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, said she had “profound concerns” about campaigns that suggest vaping is a positive thing and calls for rules to stop e-cigs becoming socially acceptable.
She also calls for vaping to banned in public places saying they should not been seen as a lifestyle choice.
Saints allow vaping throughout Langtree Park and will continue to do so when the stadium is officially re-named as the Totally Wicked stadium.
The club announced the name change shortly before Christmas as part of a five-year deal, with chairman Eamonnn McManus saying the sponsorship package supported the club’s “wider health objectives”.
At the time, Mr McManus said: “The club plays an active role not only in sport, but also in health and education, and over the last four years of working with Totally Wicked, we have been able to create a supportive and vape friendly atmosphere at the club.
“We believe this new deal will further this pioneering work by not only helping to raise awareness yet further of the damage smoking tobacco can do [but] also in deterring people from taking on the habit in the first place.”
However, Dr Stokes-Lampard’s branded allowed vaping in public as a “retrograde step”.
And while most doctors agree that vaping is less dangerous than smoking, no long-term evidence exists on any risks associated with e-cigarettes.
“The only place that I see vaping has is for people cutting down from smoking on their way to quitting, and therefore the appropriate thing is to treat it like smoking,” Dr Stokes-Lampard said in an interview.
She said she had “profound concerns about marketing campaigns that would suggest that vaping is a positive thing”, and urged rules to stop e-cigarettes becoming a “socially acceptable” choice.
“I think it would be a retrograde step to allow vaping in public places,” she said.
“At the Royal College of GPs we don’t allow people to vape in the building. Until we have the full evidence base we are taking the conservative approach that we do not allow smoking, we do not allow vaping because it’s so closely aligned.”
She added that advise from GPs to smokers should be: “‘If you wish to try e-cigarettes as an aid to cutting down your smoking, by all means give it a try. But it should be as part of a planned programme.’”
However, Professor John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies and author of a Royal College of Physicians report endorsing e-cigarettes, said banning vaping “suggests to smokers that switching to e-cigarettes doesn’t achieve anything and it puts them off switching”.
Professor Britton said: “The power of these products is that they offer smokers a consumer choice that takes people out of smoking without needing to use medical services.”
Lorien Jollye, of the New Nicotine Alliance of vapers, said: “It is frustrating to see the reasons behind the popularity of vaping being misunderstood. Millions of smokers are making it clear they do not want medicating or controlling; they want to be self-sufficient reducing their harm and enjoy themselves doing so.”
Public Health England has estimated that e-cigarettes are 95 per cent less harmful than tobacco and says businesses should not make vapers stand outside with smokers.
The St Helens Reporter attempted to contact Saints but no-one was available for comment.