It's been a busy year for NNA already - in addition to finally receiving charitable status after a year of trying we have been quite literally all over the place trying to spread the message about tobacco harm reduction and in particular vaping as a harm reduction strategy. Here is a brief round up of the year so far, and what we have coming up:
In January we welcomed two new members to our board, Simon Thurlow and Andy Morrison who have special interests in policy in Wales and Scotland respectively. Both had already been working hard in conjunction with the Save Ecigs campaign to change minds in Wales and Scotland and continue to do so.
January started well, with the NNA response to the Scottish consultation being submitted. Click here to see our response. This was well received, and resulted in a request from the Scottish Government research team for NNA to attend a meeting to further discuss our response. This was attended by Andy Morrison and Steve Christie in person, and Lorien Jollye by phone. The meeting seemed positive and resulted in the research group requesting further information regarding vaping bans in enclosed public spaces, which we provided in the form of a briefing: Click here to see the briefing.
Andy has also been working hard to established a good relationship and on-going dialogue with Sheila Duffy at ASH Scotland and Rebecca Campbell who is the Health Improvement Lead (Tobacco) with the NHS at Gartnavel Hospital. This has involved several meetings and a workshop with Stop Smoking Practitioners in central Scotland. Meanwhile, Simon has been meeting with Welsh Assembly Members including David Rees AM, Chair of the Health and Social care Committee of the Welsh Government, with the assistance of the Save Ecigs campaign.
We responded in similar terms to the Scottish consultation to the UK Government consultation on the introduction of a minimum age of sale.
In January we also launched our Year of Vaping Advocacy campaign, in order to raise the profile of consumer advocacy and assist with strengthening ties with consumer groups across Europe. The campaign includes the vaping advocate of the year awards, the winners of which have just been announced, and which will be awarded at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw in June. We will be assisting in arranging a specialised session for consumer advocates from across Europe at GFN.
At the end of January we were asked by Public Health England to assist in providing the details of vaping organisations including forums and Facebook groups in order that they could disseminate their survey on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces. The survey was launched in February, and we have, of course, responded individually, as have many hundreds of vapers. We also took the opportunity to write to Professor Kevin Fenton of PHE to request a meeting so that we could share our concerns and ideas.
The meeting took place on the 20th of February, and was attended by Sarah Jakes and Lorien Jollye for NNA, and Martin Dockrell and Professor Fenton for PHE. It was, overall, a very positive meeting with much common ground having been found. We very much look forward to working with PHE in the future to ensure that whatever can be done will be done in order to protect vaping as an attractive alternative for smokers in order to reduce the risk of harm which smoking entails.
So far in March we have welcomed Scottish author Steve Christie as a patron, Dave Kitson as an associate and Dave Dorn as a member of the board. Dave Dorn, Gerry Stimson and Sarah Jakes have been selected to attend the first of two CRUK workshops on e-cigarette research on the 18th of March, and will also be attending a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on e-cigarettes on the 19th of March, together with other NNA board member Paddy Costall, and we hope many of our associates. Gerry Stimson will be speaking at the APPG.
In April NNA is participating in a seminar in London for Stop Smoking Services arranged jointly by the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum and the NCSCT. Speakers will include Sarah Jakes (NNA board), Louise Ross (NNA associate and manager of Leicester Stop Smoking Services), Jim McManus (director of public health Hertfordshire) and will be chaired by Andy McEwen (director of NCSTC and NNA associate). Depending on the success of the first seminar we hope to roll out a national series of seminars, hopefully with the support of organisations such as Public Health England.
None of the above just happens. Behind all this is a network of people who support the ideals of tobacco harm reduction and are constantly working to ensure that the consumer voice is heard. We communicate on a daily basis to ensure that our resources are put to the best use.
We are very much looking forward to 2015 being the year that vaping advocacy grows up. If only the same could be said for our opponents.