July 2018 will be remembered for a thrilling World Cup coupled with a tremendous summer, but NNA representatives still spent many hours away from sun-loungers and couches in front of the TV. Here are some highlights from the past month.
Last month we encouraged supporters to take part in an EU consultation on the proposal to tax vaping products. We are proud to join with consumer organisations from all over Europe with this initiative, and this month we set up a resources page to give you all the information you need to make your voice heard in Brussels. If you haven’t already done so, we would urge you to add your name to those opposing such a counter-productive and potentially damaging policy by responding to the consultation.
Vaping magazines Vapouround and Vapelyfe have endorsed the campaign, and – mirroring a common approach from consumer and industry seen in other EU states - one of the UK’s two trade associations, the UKVIA, has also lent their full support, informing their considerable membership and publicising our web page via their social media channels.
You can find everything you need to know in order to respond to the consultation by clicking here.
DON'T STOP BE-LEAVING
This month also saw another visit to Westminster to advise MPs from a consumer point of view, this time on the issue of vaping post-Brexit. NNA Chair Sarah Jakes took part in a discussion at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes as to the implications for risk-reduced products once the UK leaves the EU.
Parliamentarians wanted to understand the current impact of EU regulations, along with enquiring as to which sections should be changed and how to best go about it. Sarah emphasised many areas where the EU’s Tobacco Products Directive has got it wrong with regulating e-cigarettes including the rules on nicotine strength, size of bottles and tanks, prohibition of advertising, promotions and health claims, and the absurdity of warnings on some products.
We were encouraged that the MPs present were receptive to our evidence and understand which areas require correcting once we leave the EU. You can read our thoughts on how the meeting went in our blog article here.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
This month also saw an NNA delegation meeting with NHS experts on how to improve accessibility of harm reduction products for homeless populations.
Paddy Costall, David MackIntosh and Sairah Salim-Sartoni covered a lot of ground in the London meeting and emphasised that NNA and its supporters could be help with solutions to the challenges that homeless smokers face. Sairah’s experience as a former vape-friendly stop smoking services professional fits well with the NHS’s outlook and she spoke of the possibility of obtaining some low-cost, or ideally free, kits which could be helpful for trialling schemes in certain areas. One of the key factors which deters homeless smokers from trying alternatives is the initial cost. Our team also promised to facilitate putting the NHS in touch with their counterparts in the US where experimental projects in this policy area are already being proposed. We are pleased to be contributing our knowledge to authorities tasked with helping some of the most vulnerable in society.
SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE?
Our monitoring of web traffic on harm reduction uncovered a worrying initiative by pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, this month. Pfizer are manufacturers of competing products to harm reduction alternatives such as e-cigarettes and snus, so we were alarmed to see that they are funding research “Addressing Education Related to Smoking Cessation and Tobacco Harm Reduction” while appearing to lead the researchers to conclude harm reduction is not effective as part of the award criteria. Imagine the outrage if a tobacco or vaping company were to attempt the same methods.
We consider this to be unethical, so we wrote an open letter to Pfizer expressing our concerns. They have since replied to say that they are removing the Call for Grant Applications (CGA) entry from their page whilst they “ensure accuracy and appropriateness” and that they will give us a detailed response in due course. We have not yet received this and, also, note that the emailed link to the CGA page is still active. Watch this space for updates because we are quite prepared to pursue the matter further if need be.
REPORTING ON NNA
Tobacco Reporter published a long-form interview with NNA Chair, Sarah Jakes, this month, which we were permitted to reproduce on our blog. Entitled “No Smoker Left Behind”, the article portrayed Sarah in forthright mode insisting that all potentially helpful nicotine alternative products be allowed to flourish, a mantra that the NNA exists to promote.
You can read Sarah’s frank discussion about the financial difficulties the NNA encounters (donate here), anti-harm reduction junk science, problems with EU regulations, how much she spends on home-mixed e-liquid, that speech and much more, by clicking here.
The NNA published a poster at GFN in Warsaw with background on how we came to challenge the EU snus ban at the ECJ. It garnered much interest at the venue and we have now published it on the website. A preview is below, just click on the buttton to enlarge and download it.
Poster on the ECJ legal challenge to the snus ban presented at GFN in Warsaw
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
Coming months promise to be equally busy for the NNA. The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee report was expected to be published in late July, but the date of release has now been announced as 17th August. Once it becomes available, we will be sure to publicise it on our site and social media channels, as well as offer our thoughts on the committee’s recommendations.
The full decision in the ECJ snus case is imminent too. The advisory note from the Advocate General was not promising but the case is not closed until the final decision is published. It is a long shot, but we still hope the EC will see sense and that a ban which we have described as “a crime against public health” will be revisited.
Lastly, we are compiling a letter to the Scottish government regarding their confused and flawed Tobacco Control Plan which our Scottish lead, Andy Morrison, described as “schizophrenic” towards vaping. Politicians north and south of Hadrian’s Wall are on their holidays now but we will be following up our published response by asking questions of ministers in due course.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP?
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