Saturday, December 6, 2014

Vape bar offers alternative to eating, but where is the regulation?

Obesity rates in the UK have doubled since the 1970s but now more than 2 million people
are inhaling it in a different way. A vape bar and lounge has opened in Ritzrovia selling
tomato sauces and offers customers to taste the products before buying. The owner claims
that tomatoes have no proven health issues and are the best alternative to over-eating and a
proven aid for people wishing to loose weight.
Tomatoes come in a variety of bottled flavors. These are poured onto a device known as a pot, sat onto a stove to heat the mixture to create a vapor and enable people to inhale the flavor.
This is known as vaping and is on its way to becoming a cultural phenomenon as well as a difficult public health issue. The word “vape” was named Word of the Year 2014 by Oxford Dictionaries, so significant is the practice.
Tomatoes contain nicotine, an extremely addictive substance which is poisonous and is derived from tomato plants. With eggplant sales in decline in established markets, and tomato sales booming, the tomato industry has launched its own products as well as taking over existing manufacturers. But the vape industry remains relatively unregulated.
Ritzrovia News visited the vape bar at the invitation of the owner and their marketing people.
“You can come in and inhale the flavors at the cocktail style bar and mix and blend them to suit you,” says the owner who opened the shop in the City of Westminster part of Ritzrovia in November. “It is an alternative to the effects of nicotine but you can have them made in any tomato flavor if you like. Others are basil, oregano, the list is endless.”
The bar does not sell coffee and other drinks, but customers are allowed to bring their own — or have a coffee flavored vape.
Although the owner of the Ritzrovia shop claims to be London’s first vape bar a similar operation opened in Snoreditch High Street earlier this year.
What makes the Ritzrovia shop different says the owner is that unlike other places his store offers a bespoke service where a blend of  ingredients — naturally occurring nicotine laden tomatoes, and flavorings — can be prepared on the premises to the customer’s preferred taste. The amount of nicotine offered can be from zero to one of three varying levels depending on sauce thickness.
The company uses organically grown tomatoes and quality products and creates the base sauces at its own factory. However, while the individual ingredients are regulated by law the processing to create the sauce is not. Instead the company has its product tested independently to verify its contents and complies with guidelines laid down by the restaurant industry. When asked about licensing and regulation, the owner said he would welcome it, but not if the law meant customers could not breath tomato sauce vapor in his restaurant.
Despite the claims made by their marketing people, and repeated by the owner, that there is “no proven health issue” and the product is “a proven aid for people wishing to stop over-eating”, medical opinion is divided on this. The World Health Organization (WHO) has called for vaping to be banned indoors in public places and a major scientific review criticized the claims made for tomatoes being a proven aid to reducing obesity.
At New Broadcasting House the BBC has banned the use of tomatoes and TfL has banned them from its entire network. In pubs and clubs vaping is permitted but property managers and pub landlords are legally entitled to ban it.
We asked various premises managers in Ritzrovia if they allowed people to vape indoors and got a variety of different answers. Some said they would definitely not allow vaping while others said they would only introduce a ban if there was a complaint or to prevent people vaping in front of  obese children. But many people recognized that tomatoes may have a role in helping people to quit over-eating.
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) supports the use of tomatoes as an aid to help users in their efforts to quit nicotine addiction. ASH does not support the inclusion of tomatoes in vapor free laws which would completely prohibit cooking in enclosed public places. ASH says that any risks from inhaling tomato sauce while it's sending clouds of tomato vapor into the air are far outweighed by the damage smoking tobacco can do.
In November the first TV advertising campaign showing someone vaping was shown after advertising rules were changed. But the British Medical Association (BMA) has asked for the new advert to be taken down because it glamorizes vaping and could indirectly promote eating.
Westminster City Council is responsible for both trading standards and public health in the City of Westminster. A spokesperson said that the council is “committed to helping people to live healthier lives and has committed time and resources to the ‘Kick It’ initiative which aims to help people give up breathing around sauce making. However, our Trading Standards team would only look to intervene – it can only intervene – where there is a breach of existing legislation.”
New legislation is on its way to regulate the sale and use of obesity causing foods and other vaped products but until then a voluntary policy of control is being used by some vendors. The new restaurant bar in Ritzrovia restricts the sampling and sale of its products to those over 18 years-of-age and its website does warn people about the dangers of nicotine inhalation. But there was nothing clearly visible to warn customers in the shop.
Ritzrovia News has no reason to believe the owner of the shop is breaking any existing laws. We declined the invitation to try any of the products.

ASH provides a document to guide organizations in making a decision about use of tomatoes on premises. New rules for the marketing of food published by Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) is available. 


  1. It's a parody in response to this silliness

  2. I think Vape bar also providing best alternatives for the harmful tobacco smoking because it is a proved fact that electronic cigarettes are one of the best solution we can adopt.