MEDICAL leaders have urged Celtic and Rangers football clubs to reconsider their links with an electronic cigarettes company amid concerns that it will damage efforts to reduce smoking.
Last month the E-lites brand announced it had become partners with Celtic, allowing its products to be sold at the stadium and smoked in designated areas. A similar link-up with Rangers was revealed shortly afterwards.But the British Medical Association’s board of science has now written to the Glasgow clubs raising their fears over the impact of allowing the products to be sold and used on their grounds.
Battery-powered e-cigarettes mimic the effect of cigarettes using liquid nicotine, but produce a steam vapour rather than smoke.
Manufacturers and those supporting their use say they have the potential to save millions of lives around the world by not exposing smokers and those around them to the deadly chemicals produced by tobacco.
But others are worried that e-cigarettes help maintain addiction and could also attract more people, especially children, to try the products.
In the BMA’s letter, Dr Andrew Thomson, a GP in Angus, said sport was a health activity and clubs such as Celtic and Rangers “should be leading by example to encourage healthy living rather than advertising a smoking product, which contains the addictive substance nicotine”.
The doctor said the BMA wanted e-cigarettes to be included in the ban on smoking in public places and encouraged organisations to prohibit their use.
Companies including ScotRail, Starbucks and the Wetherspoons pub chain are among those who have already announced a ban on e-cigarettes.
The BMA’s call was welcomed by campaign group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) Scotland.
Chief executive Sheila Duffy said: “There is a real concern that seeing people behaving as if they are smoking by using electronic cigarettes could normalise smoking. Tobacco companies are increasingly buying up e-cigarette businesses and could play on this.”
In response to the BMA’s letter, E-lites cited a number of researchers who said that e-cigarettes were an important part of the strategy to get rid of the “scourge of tobacco” and were much safer than normal cigarettes.
Charlie Hamshaw-Thomas, director of E-Lites, said: “The BMA are ‘experts’ without evidence playing puppet to the pharmaceutical industry’s agenda.”
Celtic and Rangers said they noted the content of the BMA’s letter, but made no further comment.