Sports clubs have a long tradition of booting out unruly fans and even suspending season tickets for antisocial behaviour. But is it fair for e-cigarettes to fall into this category?
Only two years ago, one Manchester City fan was watching a game at the City of Manchester Stadium when he took a vape from his e-cig and was then approached by security. He was immediately told that vaping on the grounds wasn’t allowed before being escorted from the stadium. Days later the fan was informed that his season ticket was revoked effective immediately.
In City’s defence, this was in the early days of e-cigarette uptake and no doubt the security jumped to conclusions, but since then the club has seen fit to ban them outright from the stadium. Have things changed since across the world of sport since this incident? As with such a divisive issue, and one that exists in a grey area of legislation, the answer is a mixture of yes and no.
Most Premiership clubs – including Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea – forbid using them in their grounds, but there are others who have begun to cater towards fans who vape. Burnley FC was one of the first mainstream clubs to introduce a ‘vaping zone’ at their Turf Moor ground.
As sports clubs rely more and more on sponsorship to stay afloat, e-cig brands have slowly begun to introduce funding into games as a way of building their brands. Wolverhampton Wanderers were one of the first sports clubs to sign a sponsorship deal with an e-cig company, introducing personalised SKYCIG’s to their club-shop and allowing them to use them at selected areas around the stadium, while Derby County signed a sponsorship agreement with E-Lites and had even offered samples to fans at their Pride Park ground.
On top of this, just recently there was controversy as Rugby League club Warrington Wolves lifted the e-cig ban at their Halliwell Jones stadium… but only after striking a lucrative sponsorship deal with Truvape Electronic Cigarettes.
Commenting on the deal and reversal of the ban, Alex Wilson, Wolves commercial manager said in an interview with Warrington Worldwide: “As a percentage of our fans are already smokers, we are pleased to be able to encourage them to consider switching to alternatives by allowing vaping in certain areas of the stadium, as well as providing a branded vapouriser that can be purchased on site.
“We initially introduced the vaping ban as a ‘just in case’ measure, but are now happy to reverse this as more news on the industry comes to light.”
This is nothing compared to the controversy that surrounded non-league football club Merthyr Town when they renamed their stadium to the ‘Cigg-e Stadium’ in 2013. Though club officials said the deal would help safeguard their future, health officials were quick to express their shock at the decision – which is no surprise considering that Wales have pushed ahead to become one of the first countries to ban e-cig use in all enclosed spaces similar to the ban placed on tobacco.
As the health implications around the use of e-cigs remain a grey area, and both sides battle for clearer regulations on use, for now, the decision remains in the hands of sports clubs to use their discretion on the use of e-cigs.
Article supplied by Vape Superstore – proud to be one of the UK’s biggest suppliers of E cigarette kits and E liquids.