June was relatively quiet for the NNA with many trustees, associates and supporters converging on Warsaw for the fifth Global Forum on Nicotine, but there is still plenty to report. Here are just some of our activities in the past month.
Sliding into the news Caitlin Notley of the University of East Anglia attracted a large amount of media attention in June with a study entitled “The unique contribution of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction in supporting smoking relapse prevention”. The NNA helped with the study, which was recognised in the acknowledgements. In particular, the revelation that many smokers ‘slide’ into e-cigarette use without ever intending to – the accidental quitter phenomenon of which many of you will be well aware – gained column inches with both The Sun and Daily Mail reporting on how “vaping helps smokers quit even if they don’t want to”. Medical Express also carried the story and it went worldwide with articles in other countries such as France and Spain. We regularly emphasise to public health researchers that consumers such as the NNA should be involved in their studies to better understand the motivations of those who choose to use risk reduced nicotine products. This heightened media interest shows that taking such an approach can help researchers accurately reflect the nicotine market and, consequently, gain wider recognition.
Axe the tax
We may be leaving the EU (or maybe not, who knows?) but the NNA has been happy to add our support to an initiative working towards blocking an EU-wide tax on vaping products. The French consumer group SOVAPE has started a petition inviting vapers and other interested EU citizens to “Act now to stop the EU vape tax”, to which we are proud to lend our complete support, along with sixteen of the other EU consumer associations. At time of writing the petition has attracted around 8,000 signatures, so please sign it and share widely on social media channels. Let's send the message to the EU that taxation of products which are helping many people to switch from combustible tobacco is not acceptable.
Voicing on vapour Vapour Voice and Vapouround magazines both featured articles on different aspects of harm reduction in June, and trustee Martin Cullip was quoted in both. Vapour Voice carried an article on the foolishness of banning flavours, as San Francisco has recently done, and which threatens to spread across America. Martin pointed out that the dog whistle use of children to drive the debate does not consider that public health authorities regularly find adults and children like the same kind of foods, and that “The wide variety of flavours helps distance adult vapers from their former smoking experience, so it is irresponsible to obstruct that over a largely irrational moral panic.”. Later in the month Vapouround ran a piece on the harm reduction experience in Japan, Sweden and the UK. Martin highlighted that there are different strokes for different folks and that a plethora of products should be made available. “One harm-reduced product or one type of harm-reduced product just won’t cut it,” he said. “That would be like asking everyone who likes a tipple to just drink beer”. You can view the latest issue of Vapour Voice here and of Vapouround here.
Polished in Poland As mentioned last month, NNA representatives were prominent at the Global Forum on Nicotine, held in Warsaw in mid-June. Sarah Jakes’ plenary presentation has been published on our blog here along with Martin Cullip’s introductory remarks prior to a plenary debate about who we should trust in the nicotine debate, which you can read here. We also published our overall thoughts on the event here and displayed a poster to delegates on the snus case on which we intervened. You can view videos of the filmed sessions at this YouTube link.
Louise Ross, Derek Yach and Martin Cullip at the "Who can we trust?"plenary debate at the GFN
Parrots mean prizes This year’s GFN featured a film festival for the first time and we are thrilled to report that the NNA had a hand in the winning entry. The National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training (NCSCT) produced a humorous film in April entitled “Passive Vaping: A guide for parrots” in partnership with the NNA. The film won the ultimate accolade of Best Film at the festival, with the award being collected by NNA Chair Sarah Jakes and NNA associate Louise Ross. Best Director and Best New Director awards were won by a crowd-funded film led by French consumer organisation Aiduce and a film student from the UK respectively. You can view the winning film at the NCSCT’s YouTube channel here.
Louise Ross and Sarah Jakes collecting the Best Film award from Aaron Biebert
Ask the experts NNA trustee Andy Morrison has taken part in many research programmes in the last few years, including research with CRUK and Oxford University and has now taken on a role of mentor in a new study on harm reduction opportunities for the homeless. Researchers have found that their efforts are often not as successful as expected in this field. They have previously used inappropriate equipment for people switching from smoking to vaping, and not paid enough attention to the needs and motivations of smokers wishing to quit. Andy will be contributing his expertise to a feasibility study into the use of electronic nicotine devices with homeless populations in Dublin, in particular advising on the appropriate kit to recommend and the way to best incentivise differing options. This is important research and we are pleased that Andy has been invited to give the all-too-often overlooked vapers' perspective.
Sense and the city NNA trustee David MacIntosh writes a regular blog for City Health International – a movement looking at making structural improvements to ecological health in city environments – and has this to say about tobacco harm reduction options in his latest contribution:
“Over the last few years we have seen a new phenomenon emerge, vaping. This is arguably one of the greatest contributions to reducing smoking we have seen in many years and, with the honourable exceptions of Public Health England and a few far sighted individual areas and practitioners, it has occurred outside the realm of traditional tobacco control. While there are other tobacco harm reduction products with an impressive pedigree, look at the Swedish experience of snus (and please do look this up), this is geographically limited to Scandinavia. Vaping is a global phenomenon which has unsettled the established order."
You can read the whole article at the City Health website here.
Tomorrow’s news today The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee report is expected to be published in late July. Sarah Jakes gave evidence to the proceedings alongside trade bodies the UKVIA and IBVTA. Sarah urged politicians to redouble their commitment towards harm reduction, and to build on the convincing evidence of the benefits of risk-reduced nicotine products, especially with Brexit on the horizon. We hope that the committee has taken our comments on board and are optimistic that the report will be positive. This isn’t the end of the NNA’s involvement in Westminster. The All Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes will be holding its next meeting about vaping regulation post-Brexit on July 11th, and NNA Chair Sarah Jakes will be speaking at the event. We will be sure to let you know how it goes so keep an eye on the blog. Additionally, trustee John Summers has been elected onto the board of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) as their treasurer. The NNA has had great success in the UK and we are very pleased that John is on board to help advise on how good practice can lead to favourable results in other jurisdictions as well.
John Summers with INNCO's Nancy Sutthoff and Kim Dabelstein
What can you do to help? Please remember that NNA trustees give their time for free, and we rely on your generous donations to continue to ensure consumer voices are heard. Please keep your donations coming in via the donate button below, and if you can commit to a standing order or regular PayPal payment it would be gratefully received.
May has been another busy month for the NNA, here are just some of the activities we have been getting involved in on behalf of consumers.
Truth to power The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee held another oral evidence session for their e-cigarettes inquiry on the afternoon of 9th May, and Sarah Jakes spoke for the NNA on the panel. She was accompanied in giving evidence by representatives of the two main UK trade bodies, John Dunne of the UKVIA and Fraser Cropper of IBVTA. Sarah was forthright in urging the seven MPs present to show further leadership, not complacency, towards harm reduction, and to build on evidence as to the public health benefits of risk-reduced nicotine alternatives.
With Brexit fast approaching, Sarah made it quite clear that abandoning the pointless regulations imposed by the TPD would be a big step forward for the UK and perfectly in keeping with the government’s latest Tobacco Control Plan. Various reports of the day praised Sarah for her performance and we were pleased that she could represent your advocacy group in the heart of Westminster directly addressing MPs. You can read our report on the day here and watch the full hearing at Parliament TV here and on YouTube here.
Sarah Jakes with John Dunne and Fraser Cropper after giving testimony to MPs at the Science and Technology Committee
WHO do they think they are? The World Health Organisation held a quickfire consultation on non-communicable diseases between the 10th and 16th of May and the NNA decided it was a perfect opportunity to put forward the case for safer nicotine alternatives. You can read our submission here. We argued that tobacco harm reduction has been neglected in international tobacco control and urged the WHO to engage with civil societies and consumers to help achieve the goals they have set for themselves.
Imagine our surprise, then, when we found that our response had been relegated to a sub-heading of “feedback received from entities with which WHO does not engage”. We contacted the WHO to ask why they inexplicably excluded a charity consumer association from proposing reasonable ideas, but they have still not had the decency to reply.
We felt this was a gross abuse of authority on the part of the WHO and will be raising the matter with authorities in the UK. You can read our account of how the WHO’s juvenile behaviour has failed to adhere to its own articles and previously stated declarations here.
We also criticised the WHO’s latest World No Tobacco Day for not including any mention of vaping or other harm reduction methods in its global publicity. We felt this was a missed opportunity and issued a press release to that effect which has been picked up by some media with more to come. You can read our press release here
Down the tube There have been worrying happenings on YouTube with many vape reviewers reporting that their videos are being censored and – in some cases – their accounts being shut down with scant right of appeal. NNA trustee Martin Cullip wrote an article for Spiked highlighting how this purge of vaping content poses a sinister threat to free speech online.
It is worth noting that the NNA successfully fought for the right of vape reviewers to continue to offer insight and guidance for consumers when there was a threat to include them in the TPD’s ban on marketing across borders, otherwise they could have been banned already. Martin argued that these efforts could be wasted if YouTube can bypass democratic process and censor reviews on the back of baseless moral panicking.
It is not restricted to YouTube either, nor is it confined to product reviews. The NNA routinely suffers publicity being pulled from Google for daring to mention anything related to quitting smoking. Despite being trusted to present to government committees in the UK, on social media the same tobacco harm reduction arguments are increasingly forbidden. You can read Martin’s article at Spiked here.
Expo enthusiasm The NNA had a presence at Vaper Expo in Birmingham at the start of the month and became somewhat popular for our “considerate vaping welcome” stickers. Our stand in the meet and greet area attracted great interest over the weekend and we handed out hundreds of the stickers to grateful vapers and vendors. By the Sunday there was barely a stall in the venue which didn’t have a few of them on display somewhere.
Along with a journalist from the Guardian, Neil H from Ecigclick also came to have a chat to us and later wrote about the impact our stickers were having post-Expo. You can read his excellent account – along with plenty of pictures and a tub-thumping tie-in to the World Cup – by clicking here.
The team of Jessica Harding, Andy Morrison, John Summers, Martin Cullip and Sue Wilson also spoke to an eclectic range of interested visitors over the weekend, and not only vaping consumers. Vendors from diverse areas from the north right down to Jersey in the Channel Islands popped by, and we even spoke to a delegate planning to hold an expo in Australia! Now wouldn’t that be worth keeping an eye out for?
We would like to give a huge thank you to the Vaper Expo organisers for giving us the stand and for making us so welcome.
Canada try Last month, NNA trustee and director of GFN Paddy Costall held a dialogue in Vancouver to discuss harm reduction and the increased interest from the Canadian legislature. He encountered several problems when faced with ideological objections, some of which were libellous and shameful, and I’m sure that we will hear more about it in the future. However, the event went ahead, and Paddy was interviewed by Regulator Watch where he spoke favourably of Canada’s approach and how consumer-based initiatives could have lasting positive consequences. You can watch the five minute interview here:
Torn from the USA Yesterday, NNA Chair Sarah Jakes and former Chair Gerry Stimson addressed a delegation of US congressional representatives in London’s Grafton Hotel. The ‘fact finding’ visit was arranged by R Street Institute and delegates were staff from both the US Senate and House of Representatives and evenly split between those working for Democrats and Republicans, looking to be better informed about issues surrounding harm reduction in a number of areas. The previous day TV’s Dr Christian Jessen had been invited to speak to them at the House of Lords so the NNA is in good company.
Gerry spoke first and explained the history of harm reduction in the illicit drug and HIV world, and how it translates into tobacco harm reduction, emphasising the importance of consumer and industry in having driven the success the UK has enjoyed in recent years. Sarah followed by explaining why and how the NNA was formed, what we do, what we have accomplished and why we do it from a consumer point of view, and why choice, variety, innovation and autonomy are important to consumers. The presentation was well-received, and we hope that our input may help vapers on the other side of the Atlantic.
SSS in the SW Also yesterday, stop smoking services adviser and NNA trustee Sairah Salim-Sartoni visited South Gloucestershire to assist several groups tasked with assisting smokers amongst mental health populations. Sairah is supporting South Gloucestershire stop smoking services in designing an e-cigarette voucher system – in partnership with local vape shops - to provide starter kits to those who might be wary of investing meagre resources on equipment that might not suit. She was well-received by representatives of Bristol University, Trading Standards, and a healthy number of wellbeing groups.
Tomorrow’s news today June is looking to be an equally busy month for the NNA. In Scotland, Andy Morrison is in the process of embarking on a study with Oxford Universities that NNA were asked to assist with and preliminary paperwork has been completed. We hope to report more on this as it progresses.
Keep visiting the NNA site for more about Warsaw in coming weeks plus further news at the end of June.
Time is money May has been another very busy month with many NNA trustees giving their time for free, as you can see. We need your support to carry on doing so. Please keep your donations coming in via the donate button below, and if you can commit to a standing order or regular PayPal payment it would be gratefully received.
World No Tobacco Day is a missed opportunity, says the New Nicotine Alliance
• The World Health Organisation is misleading in attributing a raised risk of heart and cardiovascular disease to tobacco, rather than smoking.
• The WHO could achieve improved results by adhering to its own stated commitments to tobacco harm reduction and providing opportunities to the public to make informed choices.
• Grass roots tobacco harm reduction campaigns have been instrumental in driving considerable reductions in smoking prevalence in many nations.
• World No Tobacco Day should be an opportunity to raise global awareness of innovative modern alternatives to smoking.
Speaking on World No Tobacco Day 2018, the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) called upon the World Health Organisation to show leadership in highlighting the considerable public health potential of reduced risk products.
“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking which a great many people find an acceptable substitute. They have contributed to record falls in smoking prevalence in the UK.”, said Sarah Jakes, chair of NNA.
“There have also been big declines in smoking prevalence in France and the USA due to uptake of innovative products, while Sweden and Norway boast by far the lowest smoking rates in Europe thanks to the widespread use of snus, a tobacco product which carries a fraction of the risk of smoking lit tobacco.
“The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control was founded with a commitment to encourage tobacco harm reduction. Its Ottawa Charter and Jakarta Declaration also pledge to put people at the heart of decision-making and to support and enable consumers to keep themselves, their families and friends healthy. Yet these goals appear to have been abandoned in favour of blindly attacking industry, ignoring the global success of alternative nicotine products and refusing to engage with consumers.
“On World No Tobacco Day, it is time for leadership from the WHO in educating governments that e-cigarettes are not tobacco products as some states wrongly categorise them, and emphasising that it is the act of lighting tobacco and smoking it which is harmful to heart and cardiovascular disease, not tobacco in all its forms. In 1976, Michael Russell famously said "people smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar", leading to an acceptance of the nicotine replacement therapy market we have today. Yet increasingly the public are being misled into believing nicotine is a problem, when it can be a solution.
“World No Tobacco Day should be a great opportunity to raise awareness of far safer alternative nicotine products to maximise benefits to public health worldwide. The WHO should be empowering people to take control of their health by way of clear messages on differing risks and the relative safety of nicotine, but this year they have sadly missed the target.”, said Sarah Jakes.
The NNA would like to see a greater commitment by the WHO and NGOs to correcting ideological opposition to successful consumer-driven solutions to lit tobacco, and a better recognition of long-term recreational use of nicotine as a powerful incentive for smoking cessation.
Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance
Contact: Sarah Jakes 0300 302 0029
Note to Editors: The New Nicotine Alliance is a charity concerned with improving public health, through a greater understanding of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and their uses.
Expedition to Expo Vaper Expo is taking place at the NEC in Birmingham next weekend and NNA will be there, in the Media Meet and Greet area. Trustees Andy Morrison and John Summers and Associates Martin Cullip and Sue Wilson plus NNA administrator Jessica Harding will be at the NNA stand and would very much like to see you there. The Expo organisers have, as always, made us very welcome and we would be as delighted to welcome you to our stand so please do pop by, to learn more about what we do or just for an idle chat.
Snus you lose The Advocate General gave his opinion on the snus case – in which the NNA was involved as intervenor- at the European Court of Justice on 12th April. You can read our media release here.
It is very disappointing that he recommended the ban on the sale of snus throughout the EU (except Sweden) is upheld, but the final decision isn’t expected until later in the year, and it isn’t unheard of for a final decision to go against the Advocate General’s opinion. It’s fair to say though that the likelihood is that once again common sense will be side lined and that snus, a harm reduction product which has contributed to Sweden boasting dramatically lower smoking prevalence and associated diseases, will continue to be prohibited for purely political reasons.
This won’t stop us in the NNA for fighting for what we know is right. We are very encouraged that the case has boosted a new snus advocacy movement: EUforSnus now numbers over 3000 members and social media has shown an impressive uptick in vapers supportive of snus as a harm reduction opportunity, like the one they have seen to be so successful for themselves. The snus case is just the end of the beginning. There is lots more to come and NNA will be amongst it.
New Statesperson A New Statesman event entitled “When might England become Smokefree?” took place within the shadow of the House of Commons on 10th April, and our Chair, Sarah Jakes, was on the expert panel. Read more in our post about the event here. Sarah laid out the NNA’s stated position on a number of harm reduction avenues and stressed that we still have a long way to go, unless stakeholders realise that it is smokers who will decide what is the best way to quit or switch, not self- appointed experts. The important thing is that a suite of products is made available in order that everyone who chooses to stop smoking can be enabled to do so.
The event was filmed so we hope that the footage will be available soon. Keep checking back to the NNA website and social media accounts: as soon as we see it, so will you.
Hope you liked Jamming too Vape Jam went extremely well and we really enjoyed meeting so many of you there. Thank you very much to Vape Jam for, once again, making us so welcome and donating the proceeds of the superb raffle to us. Thank you very much too to SoulOhm reviews for giving fantastic presentations for NNA.
SoulOhm reviews on stage for NNA
Some of the raffle prizes at Vape Jam
Forum frolics The chair and former chair of the NNA both took part in a panel at the UKVIA Forum in London last week, chaired by Norman Lamb who is currently conducting an enquiry into vaping and other harm reduction methods in Parliament. Sarah made the point that the people who implacably oppose harm reduction will never listen to reason, while Gerry expressed disappointment that the public health cognoscenti seem reluctant to embrace e-cigs as the public health benefit that they obviously are. We think - thanks also to a question from the floor by the IBVTA - they may have hit the target - read on to find out why.
UKVIA panel debate with Norman Lamb, Sarah Jakes, Lynne Dawkins, Dan Marchant and Gerry Stimson
NNA gathering pluses in May The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee will be holding another oral evidence session for their E-cigarettes inquiry on the afternoon of 9th May. Sarah will be giving evidence on behalf of NNA, it will be online live and our Facebook and Twitter accounts will feed you the link when we know it. This is your advocacy group in the heart of Westminster speaking your message directly to MPs.
NICE and easy does it The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) are updating their suite of tobacco and smoking guidelines and the NNA hopes to be involved in helping to shape them. The guidelines cover prevention, cessation and tobacco harm reduction and Sarah Jakes – who recently served as a member of the NICE public health advisory committee on smoking cessation – attended a workshop at NICE to give a consumer point of view on the scope of the updates. E-cigarettes will feature heavily in this update, and it is important that NICE get this right (or at least don’t bugger it up)...
Parroting sense If you missed it do go and watch this amusing but educational video from the NCSCT which calmly debunks many of the myths spread about vaping. Passive vaping for parrots was produced in conjunction with NNA and we are listed in the credits.
Help us to help you As you can see, the NNA has been busy on your behalf but we couldn’t do it without your support. NNA advocates are unpaid volunteers but expenses are inevitably incurred along the way, so please keep your donations coming in via the donate button below. Why not consider setting up a standing order or regular PayPal payment, to help us to help you?
We look forward to bringing you more NNA news at the end of May.
At 9.30 tomorrow morning MPs will be debating vaping in Westminster Hall. The debate will be lead by Gareth Johnson, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes.
It is essential that MPs understand vaping if they are to make informed decisions about appropriate regulation, and a key aspect of that is clear information about the safety of e-cigarettes. In this short video, Clive Bates and Professors John Britton, Ann McNeill, and Robert West, all experts in the field of tobacco, outline what we know about the safety of vaping, and the implications for public health. Please share it with your MP.
Today saw the latest release of adult smoking rate data from the Office of National Statistics based on the Annual Population Survey and the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey. The data shows that over the last 12 months, the overall smoking rate has fallen at a historical rate of 1.5%, to a new historical low of 17.2%.
Worth celebrating are the specific age group declines - 18-24 fell from 20.7% to 19.3%, 25-34 fell from 23.0% to 20.8%, 35-44 fell from 19.5% to 18.1%. Among the respondents included in this survey, 5.6% stated they were current e-cigarette users, equating to approximately 2.9 million users.
The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) today released a policy paper in response to an undercover investigation that has seemingly identified that nine out of ten vape shops are knowingly selling to non-smokers. The basis of this 'news' is found in the IBVTA Code of Conduct with focus on item three:
Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore never knowingly sell to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper.
At the end of 2016 NNA joined forces with NCSCT to produce a series of videos about different aspects of vaping. The first one, 'The Switch', is now available to watch on the NCSCT YouTube channel where you will also find additional videos of each vaper talking about their individual experience of switching from smoking to vaping.
A study into how e-cigarettes can help stop people relapsing after giving up smoking is looking for volunteers.
Researchers are calling for the help of people who have previously used e-cigarettes to give up smoking, in a bid to better understand their effectiveness and inform future ‘stop smoking’ initiatives.
The study, taking place at the University of East Anglia (UEA) Norwich Medical School and funded by Cancer Research UK, requires members of the public who have quit with the help of e-cigarettes and have either stayed stopped, or gone back to smoking.
Dr Caitlin Notley from UEA’s Norwich Medical School said: “Tobacco smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death worldwide, and up to two thirds of long-term smokers will die of a smoking-related disease.
“But the risk can be considerably reduced by stopping smoking, and staying stopped. We need the help of people who have used e-cigarettes, so that we can better understand how they might be used most effectively in the future.”
Amongst all quitters, 90 per cent of attempts to stop smoking end in relapse. In recent years e-cigarette use has boomed, and previous studies have shown many people use them to either cut down or stop smoking entirely. However, a recent survey showed up to 63 per cent of them went back to smoking.
Dr Notley said: “It appears that e-cigarettes have significant potential to aid smoking cessation, and recent evidence suggests they are as effective or more effective than nicotine replacement therapy. But we still know very little about people in the general population who quit smoking using an e-cigarette and their eventual relapse status. We need the help of the public to understand this better. Our ultimate aim is to develop guidance for health professionals so that they can advise people how best to use e cigarettes in the long term, if that is their choice, to stay stopped from smoking”
Volunteers will be interviewed by phone or in person about their experiences of using e-cigarettes for stopping smoking and, if they relapsed, about going back to smoking.
Volunteers can also take part in an online version of the interview if they would prefer.
Dr Notley said: “This study will provide much needed qualitative evidence on e-cigarette use in relation to smoking relapse. This is essential to inform future development of e-cigarette-based smoking relapse prevention interventions. Our findings will be important for policy and practice recommendations, in particular to Stop Smoking services about the best way to advise members of the public wishing to remain stopped from smoking with the assistance of e-cigarettes.”
James Wade, lead advisor at Smoke Free Norfolk, said: “Smokefree Norfolk would like to support those participants who want to quit smoking with the aid of E-Cigarettes. There is still benefit to having the behavioural support alongside the use of the E-Cigarette. So if any participants are attempting to stop smoking with the use of EC and would like support then please contact us on 0800 0854 113.”
The EU Commission is currently consulting on a revision to the Tobacco Excise Directive, which could see reduced risk products such as e-cigarettes being included. Our associate Clive Bates has written an in depth briefing together with NNA which details why this is a very bad idea. The full briefing can be read here. The consultation can be found here.
There is no case on principled or practical grounds to apply excise duties to vaping products and other products that offer a much safer alternative to smoking. The value to health and wellbeing associated with switching from smoking to vaping will exceed any benefits arising from revenue collection.
Just as it was with the Tobacco Products Directive, the inclusion of products which do not contain tobacco in the Tobacco Excise Directive is unhelpful and risks creating confusion in the minds of consumers.
If vapour and other reduced risk products are to be included in the directive then our view is as follows:
Excise policies on reduced risk products can have a significant negative impact for human health and is inconsistent with EU requirements to make policy with a high level of health protection.
The EU principle of 'non-discrimination' requires that products with very different characteristics are not treated in the same way - the vast difference in health risks means that reduced risk products must have zero or very low taxation relative to smoked tobacco products.
There is an opportunity to create a regime which will incentivise use of the safer products.
The risk is that poor policy will reduce this incentive, and so protect the market for smoked tobacco products.
Excise duty is a 'sin tax' and switching to low risk products is a virtue to be encouraged, not a sin to be taxed.
Our recommendations for low risk non combustible products are as follows:
If they are included in the directive then a zero rate duty must be allowed.
There should be a maximum rate set which reflects the very substantial difference in risk compared to smoked tobacco.
We urge the European Commission, European Council and member state tax authorities to take great care in striking the balance between public health, revenue raising and administrative costs. The institutions involved should conduct thorough impact assessments, take a hard look at the risks of causing harm to health and then think again about imposing excise duties on products that are already helping millions of Europeans to improve their health and wellbeing and have the potential to help millions more.
The Freedom Association's Freedom to Vape Campaign has today released a report detailing the vaping policies of 386 of the UK's 417 local authorities. The report makes very grim reading.
Despite the fact that there are no known harms to bystanders from the aerosol from vapour devices, and that many people are using them to quit smoking, only one council, Enfield, has a policy which encourages the use these devices, which are estimated to be a total least 95% safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.
The key findings of the report are:
112 councils require vapers to use only the designated smoking areas to vape
335 councils have the same, or essentially the same policy for vaping as for smoking
1 council, the London Borough of Enfield, allows vaping indoors and actively encourages smokers to switch to vaping
3 councils allow vaping at desks but only because they don't have a policy
Clearly there are situations where for either operational, public image, or other reasons it may be inappropriate to allow staff to vape, but there is absolutely no excuse for a blanket ban in line with smoking legislation, much less a policy which requires non smokers or those trying to quit with vapour devices to go to a smoking shelter to vape. Indeed on that subject Public Health England says the following:
"It is never acceptable to require vapers to share the same outdoor space with smokers. Where a designated outdoor smoking area has been provided in a public place or workplace, vapers should be allowed to vape elsewhere."
Make clear the distinction between vaping and smoking
Ensure policies are informed by the evidence on health risks to bystanders
Identify and manage risks of uptake by children's and young people
Support smokers to stop smoking and stay smokefree
Support compliance with smokefree law and policies
The policies set by the vast majority of local authorities in the UK ignore some or all of the recommendations by Public Health England, have no justification and will discourage people from switching from smoking to vaping. This is unacceptable. The Freedom Association report includes a handy list of local authorities and their policies - we suggest you locate yours and write them a polite and appropriate letter. If you live in the London Borough of Enfield please write to them to congratulate them for being a beacon of common sense in a sea of lazy thinking. The full report is available here.
Update: our friends at Vapers in Power have made it easy for you to do just that:
INNCO global members support UKCTAS in their critique of the WHO FCTC policy on e-cigarettes.
Today, the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) added its support to a critical report released this morning by leading academics attached to the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS), in response to the WHO’s FCTC latest report on e-cigarettes (or ENDS as the WHO inexplicably insist on calling them).
The report by the WHO forms the basis for discussions at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP7) in Delhi 7-12 November on the global Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The FCTC’s 180 signatories will decide on future global policy relating to cigarettes and other combustible tobacco products, smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.
The last EU meeting to finalise the collective 28-member EU position on e-cigarettes took place earlier this week in Brussels.
Atakan Befrits, INNCO’s press officer said “Reports suggest the EU statement will not contain any positive statements on the risk reduction e-cigarettes offer for smokers, despite recent evidence reviews by Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians that showed enormous benefits for those who switch”.
INNCO called upon all EU Ministers of Health to give immediate attention to the issues raised in the UKCTAS critique of the WHO report, stating - It is important that the EU collective response to e-cigarettes reflects the positive health benefits conferred on smokers who switch to safer nicotine products and these benefits, as well as potential risks, are assessed objectively.
Judy Gibson, the Steering Group Coordinator of INNCO said “The WHO’s current policy on e-cigarettes is more likely to endanger public health instead of improving it. Once again the WHO remains resolute in refusing to acknowledge scientific evidence and opinions from the world’s leading experts in tobacco addiction. This needs to change - now."
In preparation for the Conference of the Parties of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control meeting in India next month a report was prepared for WHO on Electronic Nicotine Delivery Devices (ENDS) and related products. The report is available online at: http://www.who.int/fctc/cop/cop7/FCTC_COP_7_11_EN.pdf
John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies, together with colleagues has prepared a response to the WHO report, which can be read in full here.
John Britton said: "In our view the WHO report takes a somewhat unbalanced view of ENDS, in particular by failing to consider or discuss the potential of these products to complement tobacco control policy by providing smokers who have proved unwilling or unable to quit smoking with an effective and far less harmful means of consuming nicotine. Experience in the UK indicates that the availability of electronic cigarettes is proving beneficial to public health. It is important that these benefits, as well as potential risks, are assessed objectively in the formulation of WHO policy."
Let's hope that that is a message that the UK delegation, whoever they may be, will take to COP7.
Top Scientists Hire Libel Lawyers To Sue The Times - full press release issued by the claimants.
The Times had accused scientists devoted to ending smoking of being in the pay of big tobacco companies
The newspaper has already been forced to publish a detailed apology to one of the experts it named
Cancer Research UK has refused to back The Times’ description of the charity’s viewpoint
A group of senior scientists and public health experts has hired libel specialists at Lewis Silkin to sue The Times for making highly defamatory allegations.
The experts who have devoted their careers to helping to reduce the death toll from smoking, were accused by the paper of being in the pay of tobacco companies. On Wednesday 12 October 2016 under the headline “Tobacco giants fund vaping studies”
The Times wrongly accused the experts of accepting money from the tobacco companies for their work and castigated them as being “Experts making a packet” The Times has already withdrawn that description and apologised to one of the experts it defamed - the former head of Action on Smoking and Health, Clive Bates.
Yet it has not apologised to any of the other experts whom it falsely accused of accepting “tens of thousands of pounds from tobacco companies to carry out research into e-cigarettes”
The Times story led its coverage with the claim that Cancer Research UK had “condemned the scientists” for allegedly taking funding for vaping research. However Cancer Research UK’s Tobacco Control Manager George Butterworth has refused to support The Times report saying that “we don’t condemn any researchers.”
“This is personal,” said Professor Karl Fagerstrom who is world famous in addiction science, and created the Fagerstrom Test for Cigarette Dependence.
“My life’s work has been built on helping reduce the death toll from tobacco smoking. Yet The Times has portrayed me and my colleagues as hirelings of big tobacco. The Times has chosen to traduce our reputations. Now it is time for the paper to profusely apologise or face a battle it will not win,” said Professor Fagerstrom. The Times claimed that he had been paid for research on e-cigarettes. However Professor Fagerstrom has never done any research on e-cigarettes.
"We are some of the world’s best known experts on tobaccco harm reduction. Between us we have published more than 1,000 academic papers. Yet The Times has grotesquely smeared us in a story informed by the ideologue Martin McKee who has never published a single research paper on e-cigarettes” said Professor Riccardo Polosa one of the other academics accused by The Times of publishing e-cigarette research funded by tobacco money.
“The Times should examine carefully its motives for this scurrilous attack. Reducing the uptake of safer tobacco alternatives such as e-cigarettes and snus will inevitably result in more deaths from real cigarettes, currently the biggest killer in the world today. Is this really what they want?” asked Professor David Nutt of Imperial College London who was the lead author of a seminal study that which endorsed e-cigarettes and other forms of tobacco harm reduction. The Times suggested this report was tainted by tobacco money.
Yet the biggest mistake by The Times was not to research the background of the other expert it attacked - Professor David Sweanor of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa. As well as being a distinguished public health academic and longstanding anti-smoking activist, he is a philanthropist with a fortune made from lawsuits against tobacco companies.
“My reputation has been trashed by The Times. Despite ample evidence of my independence it claimed that I am beholden to big tobacco companies. It is like saying that Robin Hood was in the pay of the Sheriff of Nottingham. I have to fight this,” added Professor Sweanor.
Jonathan Coad, the partner at Lewis Silkin who will be doing the work said; “The long record of irresponsible journalism about matters of grave public interest on the part of this discredited newspaper group continues , as does the failure of IPSO to properly regulate the British press.”
Over the weekend of 14th October, 'Vaper Expo, The Return' saw two NNA Trustees - Dave Dorn and Andy Morrison - address the expo-goers from the main stage. They spoke about how much we need vaper support, A Billion Lives and other matters that really need vapers to get behind and lend their voices and support.
Amazingly, though, the Vaper Expo organisers, who are very, very supportive of the work we do, arranged a donation of £3,300 to the NNA, an amount that will enable us to do much more good work.
At the same time Vapourtrails.tv ran two live shows and featured the work of the NNA extensively - Andy Morrison spoke and collected new sign-ups on their stand.
We are massively grateful to Vaper Expo for not only hosting us, but also raising so much awareness of the NNA - and the donation is gratefully received and will be faithfully applied.
NNA is very proud to be one of the founding members of a new international network of nicotine consumer organisations, INNCO.
Building on the successes achieved by EVUN in Europe, vaping advocacy has now gone global, in a bid to ensure that the voices of consumers are heard loud and clear, wherever they may be in the world.
In its first press release INNCO has criticised the World Health Organisation for its lack of transparency and refusal to engage with the most important stakeholders of all - consumers. Read the full press release here.
The risks and benefits of e‑cigarettes are uncertain but there is emerging evidence that e‑cigarette use may substantially reduce the burden of disease caused by smoking.
August 2nd saw the launch of a public consultation in New Zealand following a statement from the Ministry of Health:
The New Zealand Health Ministry recognises that the legal status of e‑cigarettes is confusing, that the laws are not routinely enforced, and that ‘There is emerging evidence that e‑cigarette use may substantially reduce the burden of disease caused by smoking’. Further, the Ministry of Health ‘proposes to make legislative changes that will maximise the potential benefits of e‑cigarettes and minimise potential risks to smokers and to the wider population.’
NNA have responded to the consultation, and you can read our full response here.
NNA (UK) strongly urge any vaper who has not submitted a response to the consultation to do so ahead of the closing date for submission - 5PM Monday 12 September 2016.
Yesterday NNA attended the National Symposium on e-cigarettes entitled "A new era for tobacco harm reduction", which was jointly organised by Public Health England and Cancer Research UK.
The symposium was very well attended with some 200 delegates including regulators, Directors of Public Health and various practitioners, researchers, consultants and representatives from numerous health interest groups and charities.
In the morning there were presentations from Alison Cox and Professor Linda Bauld from CRUK, Profs John Britton, Ray Niaura, Ann McNeill, Maciej Goniewicz (who now seems comfortable in his role of always being 'the baddy') and Peter Hajek. The afternoon brought presentations from Alette Addison of the Department of Health, Dr Debbie Robson of KCL, and finally a panel discussion which included our trustee, Lorien Jollye.
For avid followers of the vaping debate, most of the information presented was not new. However, as always with these events the real value is always in the bringing together of people, and the introduction of new people to the issues surrounding harm reduction and this event was no exception.
A range of issues were discussed, some of the more notable being the need to continue to build a good evidence base in the UK in order to be able to influence policy both here and abroad, the assertion by the department of health that the UK has already complied with the guidelines laid down by the World Health Organisation at COP6, and a plea from Dr Andy McEwen, that we take a realistic approach to research surrounding vapour products, and always involve the real experts, consumers, in study design and methodology.
Public Health England chose the symposium to launch their new framework guidance for policy making on the use of e-cigarettes in public places and work places, which can be downloaded here.
The new advice from Public Health England expands on the '5 questions' guidance offered by ASH together with the CIEH and makes clear the need for employers and the managers of public spaces to differentiate between vaping and smoking, and to support smokers who are using vapour products in order to stop smoking.
Overall, the feeling at the event was very positive towards the concept of harm reduction via the use of vapour products with very few dissenting voices. That is not to say that those voices do not exist, or that there is not still work to be done. But there were areas of broad agreement, and a willingness to at least talk about the matters on which there were differences of opinion.
In a vote taken at its annual conference the British Medical Association has called for a ban on vaping in public spaces such as bars and restaurants because of fears over renormalisation of smoking behaviour, and what they perceive as the 'risks of passive vaping'. This is despite the fact that there is no evidence at all, anywhere, that their fears have any foundation in reality.