Livingston Football club has become the latest sports team to announce a sponsorship tie up with a vaping firm - despite calls for sports to ditch associations with “vice” products such as alcohol and vaping.
The club has announced that Edinburgh-based vaping firm VPZ is its official “vaping partner”, just months after Hibs did the same - attracting criticism from anti-smoking campaigners who believe that the partnership could be regarded as marketing to young people and non-smokers, rather than as a stop smoking aid.
Livingston FC is already sponsored by betting firm Ladbrokes. However, Scottish women’s football recently announced that the organisation will not accept sponsorships from gambling operators or alcohol brands.
The club’s vice chairman, Neil Hogarth said: “Livingston Football Club is delighted to collaborate with Edinburgh-based VPZ, and wholeheartedly support its campaign to reduce cigarette smoking during VApril.
“Partnerships with local businesses are important to our club, and, if by working together, VPZ and Livingston FC can help NHS Scotland reach its target of reducing cigarette smoking, it will have been an extremely successful collaboration.”
Health charity Cancer Research UK states that it is “important that adequate protections exist to stop the promotion of e-cigarettes to young people and non-smokers.
Doug Mutter, director at VPZ, said: “We are very excited to be launching our partnership with Livingston Football Club during VApril. Vaping represents a huge public health opportunity and our goal will be to engage with fans to help them make the switch and quit smoking for good.”
He added: “Consumer education is crucial too and we will also be investing heavily in our people strategy to ensure our teams are equipped to help smokers understand the evidence based public health opportunity of vaping products so that their positive impact can be maximised.”
Fans took to Hibs’s website after its partnership with VPZ was announced earlier this year, warning that children could be encouraged to take up vaping.
One said: “My concern though is that young impressionable supporters will take vaping up as their heroes are seen to be endorsing it now.”
Another added: “They’ve not thought this through very well, as this is very much encouraging kids/younger people that vaping is okay. No one on the planet knows if it’s okay and no one will for decades, people used to think fags were fine for ages.”