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Mid-August saw the publication of a report by the influential House of Commons Science and Technology Committee on what the government’s approach to vaping and other safer nicotine alternatives should be. It was by far the busiest day of the year for the NNA as our spokespeople were in demand on media from morning till night, as we described in our newsletter that month.

The NNA was well prepared for the report and issued not one, but two, embargoed press releases to coincide with its publication. You can read our welcome for the report here and our release specifically on the issue of snus here. We also published a blog on the day describing the committee’s report as a potential “catalyst for a step change in the UK establishment’s approach to e-cigarettes and other safer nicotine products” which you can read here.

In line with the widespread media coverage the report attracted, NNA representatives were busy all day with media appearances. Supporters Doug Phillips and Niamh O’Farrell spoke on BBC Radio Five Live Breakfast and Channel 5 News respectively, while NNA Chair Sarah Jakes appeared on BBC2’s mid-morning current affairs show, Victoria Derbyshire, which you can watch here.

That wasn’t the end of it, though, Sarah went on to give another 9 interviews to regional BBC radio stations and Martin Cullip also spoke to BBC Radio Scotland. They are too numerous to mention here but you can view all our extensive media spots at the day’s NNA twitter stream here.

In the aftermath, NNA trustee Martin Cullip also wrote an article at Spiked countering the fears of those who were averse to the idea of vaping being allowed in public places following lurid and excitable tabloid headlines.

The opposition to the committee’s common-sense recommendations were mostly doomsayers from one institution because the BBC and others struggled to find people who could find a reason to go against the considered conclusions that Norman Lamb’s group of MPs had come to.

So, it is very encouraging to see that yesterday the government issued its response to the committee’s recommendations and accepted every single one of them.

In all there were seven.

About maintaining the government’s planned annual ‘evidence review’ on e-cigarettes and extending it to also cover heated tobacco products to be overseen by Public Health England and the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment, the government accepted the suggestion and said that it is “firmly committed to more research in this area”.

On reducing barriers to e-cigarette suppliers by way of MHRA being more receptive to vaping, the government also agreed, but added that “it is a commercial decision for e-cigarette manufacturers to make whether or not to apply for a medicinal licence. Despite the lack of a medicinal approved e cigarettes, there are around two and a half million e-cigarette users in England alone, which suggests that growth of the e-cigarette market has not been hindered due to e-cigarettes not being available on prescription”.

The recommendation that NHS England should appoint someone to include provision for e-cigarettes as part of the government’s tobacco control plan was also accepted, as was the proposal from the committee that NHS England “should set a clear central NHS policy on e-cigarettes in mental health facilities”.

Talking of opportunities post-Brexit, the government also broadly agreed that there are advantages that could be explored “in those areas identified by the Committee, such as the 20mg/ml maximum nicotine refill limit, a size restriction of 2ml on the tank, a block on advertising e-cigarettes’ relative harm-reduction potential and the notification scheme for e-cigarette ingredients”.

The government’s response also conceded that the Science and Technology Committee was correct in calling for a tax regime which favours reduced risk products according to a continuum of risk and also – admirably – committed to reviewing the counterproductive ban on snus, stating that “The Government’s goal will remain to achieve a proportionate approach to managing risk, one which protects the young and non-smokers, whilst giving smokers access to products which will reduce harm. As part of this the Government will consider reviewing the position on snus and whether the introduction of this product onto the UK market would promote that kind of proportionate harm reduction approach.”

There is very much to welcome in the government’s response and it is to Sir Norman Lamb’s credit that his gravitas has started a conversation which could lead to significant benefits to the public health of the country by way of a more enlightened thinking about nicotine and ways of reducing harm for those who find it hard to choose to quit smoking.

The NNA heartily congratulates the government on its response to the committee’s report.  We hope that the acceptance of the recommendations will one day translate into government policy offering pragmatism for a future in which novel alternatives for smokers are recognised and embraced. 


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Norman Lamb

Norman Lamb at the APPG on Vaping, November 2017

For immediate release

The New Nicotine Alliance brands ECJ decision to uphold the ban on snus a blow to the public health of EU citizens

  • The NNA is disappointed that the ECJ has endorsed a political decision based on moral panic rather than defend the right of smokers to choose safer products
  • The ban on snus, which carries negligible risk, while cigarettes remain widely available is illogical and disproportionate.
  • The UK government’s support for maintaining a ban on snus which has helped migrate huge numbers of smokers away from tobacco in Sweden and Norway flies in the face of their recent commitment to tobacco harm reduction.

LUXEMBOURG: This morning’s decision by the European Court of Justice to maintain the EU ban on the oral tobacco product snus has been criticised by a UK harm reduction charity. The New Nicotine Alliance had intervened in the case on behalf of the EU’s 100 million smokers to defend their right to health in being able to choose safer nicotine products.

Snus is a popular and effective harm reduction product which has helped hundreds of thousands of former smokers in Sweden and Norway avoid the risks of combustible tobacco use. As a result, Sweden now has the lowest lung cancer and tobacco-related mortality in Europe and smoking rates in Norway are plummeting to record low levels, yet the oral tobacco products which have led to such success are banned in every other EU member state for no good scientific or health reason.

“It is scandalous that products such as snus, which carry a fraction of the risk of smoking, are banned while cigarettes are legal and widely available”, said Sarah Jakes, Chair of the NNA, “in light of the evidence from Sweden and Norway, there is no justification for continuing the ban and denying consumers in other countries the same right to choose a far safer alternative. The UK government’s support for the ban during the court case flies in the face of its tobacco control plan, which pledges to maximise the availability of safer nicotine products.”

There is huge consumer grass roots support for tobacco harm reduction, from ex-smokers who now vape or use snus. Campaign group EUfor Snus was formed in 2017 to give a voice to snus users and it now boasts 4,000 members from 100 countries. Remarkable when sale of the product is banned in 27 of the EU member states.

“Giving European smokers, 100 million of them, the right to health and life by allowing 99% less harmful Swedish snus is an act of care for public health.”, said Bengt Wiberg, co-founder of EUforSnus, “To refuse Europeans products of substantially reduced harm which have a proven track record in aiding smoking cessation is an act of wanton negligence towards smokers and public health in the EU. More than 8 out of 10 snus users are former smokers, I am one of them. How many of Europe’s 100 million smokers could do the same if they could legally switch to snus?”

The NNA wants to see wide availability of all safer nicotine products as alternatives to smoking. “When smokers have the widest possible choice of reduced risk products it increases the likelihood of their finding an option that works for them”, said Jakes, “the EU ban on snus was a mistake based on flimsy evidence in the 1990s and it was shameful that the EU decided to maintain the ban in the Tobacco Products Directive of 2014. Today’s ECJ decision is likewise a miscarriage of justice for EU smokers who could benefit from using a far safer product which has helped so many Swedish and Norwegian smokers to quit. The fight will not stop here, the NNA will continue to campaign for what is right, and that is for snus to be available Europe-wide as an alternative to smoking.”

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editors: New Nicotine Alliance is a charity concerned with improving public health, through a greater understanding of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and their uses.

Sources:

European Court of Justice judgement in Case C‑151/17 :
http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=2A1C83343A360F2FB84838F0E797BAD0?text=&docid=207969&pageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2420873

Smoking in Sweden:
Daily smoking fell from 8% to 5% over the last three years. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146

Snus use in Sweden:
20% of people are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017 http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146

Smoking in Norway:
Among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in seventeen years (2000 to 2017): Norwegian Smoking Data https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6

Snus use in Norway:
Use among young women in Norway grew from 5% to 14% in six years. https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/07692/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6

Snus Health Impact:
The Lancet: Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” See page 1364: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf

UK Government Tobacco Control Plan
Towards a Smoke Free Generation, a Tobacco Control Plan for England
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630217/Towards_a_Smoke_free_Generation_-_A_Tobacco_Control_Plan_for_England_2017-2022__2_.pdf

Press release 20 November 2018

The New Nicotine Alliance welcomes today’s Parliamentary report recommending more liberal workplace vaping policies

  • The NNA applauds the report’s recommendation for the Parliamentary estate to lead the way by becoming vape-friendly.
  • Public vaping bans create a false perception that e-cigarette vapour is dangerous, MPs are right to act to correct this misperception.
  • There is a clear misunderstanding amongst the public about vaping, today’s recommendations – if adopted – could act as an example to other workplaces.
  • UK health bodies recommend smokers switch completely to e-cigarettes, more liberal workplace vaping policies would facilitate this and be beneficial to public health.

 LONDON: Today sees the release of a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping which recommends a fundamental liberalisation of workplace vaping policies to encourage more smokers to switch. The NNA warmly welcomes this report and would urge its suggestions be implemented in full.

The report makes five policy recommendations:

1) Workplace vaping policies should balance the needs of vapers and smokers looking to switch with those of non-vapers.
2) Employers should have a workplace policy which permits vaping outdoors and makes provision for easily-accessible indoor vaping areas.
3) The Parliamentary Estate must lead the way and act as an example to other workplaces and public places by becoming vape friendly.
4) Public Health England should work to educate employers and owners of public places of the positive public health potential of vaping.
5) Vapers should vape in a responsible way

The recommendations are sensible and evidence-based and would go a long way to settling the confusion that large sections of the public have towards the nation’s most popular method of quitting smoking.

“There are currently 3.2 million vapers in the UK, 1.7 million of whom have quit smoking entirely using e-cigarettes”, said Sarah Jakes – Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) – on welcoming today’s report, “this has contributed to the rate of smoking prevalence plummeting, but many smokers are still hesitant due to misperceptions surrounding vaping. More liberal workplace policies can have the dual benefit of correcting these misperceptions while also providing a more encouraging environment for vapers to prevent relapse, as well as for smokers considering vaping instead.

“Public vaping bans give the impression that vaping is as harmful as smoking, which is entirely untrue”, said Jakes, “In fact, vaping is believed to be at least 95% safer than smoking and the government’s stop smoking campaigns recommend e-cigarettes as a means to quit. It is daft that on the one hand smokers are being encouraged to vape instead, only to then be told they are banned from vaping just about everywhere.

“The Parliamentary estate becoming vape-friendly would send a strong message to other employers and venue owners that vapers should be encouraged, not harassed, and would help to educate the public that vapers are simply former smokers doing something that is good for their health.”

The NNA welcomes this report by Mark Pawsey MP and his APPG. It is a timely and well-researched document which dispels many myths about e-cigarettes and adds to the growing public health consensus that vaping is a valid choice for smokers looking to quit.

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

Sources

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping report “Vaping in Workplaces and Public Places” published 20 November 2018.

1.7 million e-cigarette users in the UK are ex smokers
ASH Fact Sheet: Use of e-cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain, September 2018, accessed via “New data shows smokers are getting the message on e-cigarettes”
http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/ash-news-release-new-data-shows-smokers-are-getting-the-message-on-e-cigarettes/

Vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking
Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products, Public Health England March 2018
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/684963/Evidence_review_of_e-cigarettes_and_heated_tobacco_products_2018.pdf

 

Perceptions & Misperceptions:  communication has become a battleground

sarah summit 2018

Here is the text from Sarah's talk at the E-Cigarette Summit at the Royal Society on 15 November 2018:

The veterans of harm reduction will tell you that they’ve seen all this before. Some see it as a battle between absolutism and pragmatism, and that a pragmatic view necessitates the involvement of all parties, including industry.

Others see it as a fight for the vulnerable against powerful commercial interests, and so those interests must be excluded and fought at all costs.

These fundamental differences in what are essentially opinions, have led to a war of words which has spilt into arenas which are accessible to the public, and in particular, to those who are at risk of harm and could benefit the most from harm reduction strategies.

At the moment in the U.K. there are parallel battles going on over illicit drug use and cannabis in particular.

I know very little about cannabis, but I see the same tactics employed – stigmatisation of consumers, inflation of often minimal risks and denial of benefits, plus real harm caused by the criminalisation of an activity which many people find pleasurable and beneficial enough to take their chances with the law.

Much like vapers in countries like Australia and Brazil.

The public, and in particular the consumers of whatever substance is currently under the spotlight, need to be able to trust that the information given to us by public health authorities is accurate and complete.

In the days before the internet there was an inherent trust in health organisations, and few people questioned their motives. But times have changed.

Like never before, the internet has given a global platform to dissenting voices and opposing views. Sometimes this is a force for good, but not always.

Consider where the vocal antivaxxer movement would be today without the internet. Or indeed, Donald Trump.

On the good side though, it is now easier than ever before to scrutinise evidence and commentary and highlight any failings – if you have the time and energy to do so.

However, because most people don’t have those resources, what this abundance of information has led to is confusion and mistrust.

When people distrust the information they’re given they tend to stick with the status quo, even if they know that what they’re doing (or not doing) is harmful. This much should be obvious since we’re all human.

But what happens when in order to discourage the use of a product, evidence is …shall we say…selectively presented?

We can look to America for an example of this.

For years, public health groups there have been demonising vaping by amplifying possible harmful effects and largely ignoring the benefits for smokers, and then using that imbalanced view to call for a political agenda of far greater restriction.

Despite this, the vape industry continued to grow, smoking continued to decline as smokers switched to vapour products, and kids continued to experiment but not become regular users in significant numbers.

Then, about a year ago The public health focus turned to a product called Juul, a high tech pod system which is sleek, discreet and simple to use.

Unfortunately, those features apparently appeal to kids as much as adults. Who’d have guessed that the adult and young of the same species could like the same things.

What followed was an epidemic of panic.

Almost as one, health departments and organisations across the states turned their sights on Juul. They were rarely out of the news for months. We were told that they were marketing to kids. That flavours are clearly for kids (adults don’t need them apparently).

Several complaints were filed by parents alleging that Juul had addicted their offspring. Even from a viewpoint several thousand miles away, the media hysteria over Juul appeared to reach fever pitch.

Not wishing to be left out, the FDA chimed in with ever more hyperbolic claims of, in Scott Gottlieb’s words, a “tragic epidemic of nicotine use among kids” and threats of extinction if the vapour industry doesn’t come up with a solution.

So, what happened in the real world whilst all this anti-Juul rhetoric was going on? Juul’s estimated value saw a stratospheric increase in the space of just a few months.

Of course, If you’re in the business of advertising to kids, having your product perceived as dangerous and frowned upon by the grown ups in the government would be the perfect hook to appeal to their risk taking and rebellious natures.

You could almost believe it was a clever double bluff by Gottlieb to popularise the safer alternative by demonising it, but apparently not.

In response to an apparent, and if true, perhaps predictable increase in youth vaping, the FDA now intends to impose further restrictions. In Gottlieb’s words, “in light of growing youth use, we may have to narrow the off ramp for adults, to close the on ramp for kids”

Tobacco stocks soared on the news of the regulatory obliteration of the competition. Juul responded by committing corporate suicide.

Compare this to the UK situation where vaping is treated as an opportunity not a threat, and vapers as allies in the effort to reduce the harm of smoking and not as enemies.

A country where at policy level at least, the health and lives of adults are considered valuable, and not something to be sacrificed in order to avoid minimal unproven but theoretical risks to children. After all, there can be few things more harmful to a child than the loss of a parent.

Perception in the context of public health is not just about who’s wrong and who’s right about relative risks. The vast majority of the public are not scientists, so they go with what they perceive to be a trustworthy source of information. But who can you trust when the authorities and experts are so divided?

There is one group of perceptions that stand in the way of progress in harm reduction like no other. They prevent us from engaging, discussing and sharing ideas.

They prevent us from properly considering alternative views and result in ever more entrenched positions. Those are the perceptions which we have of each other.

Some academics, politicians and others who support vaping for harm reduction are under constant attack. Regularly accused of being industry shills, the insults don’t stop there – words like quisling and collaborator are thrown around like confetti at a wedding.

The motives behind this are as transparent as they are lazy – rather than address the substantive arguments they prefer to shift perception to discredit the source. Consumers aren’t immune to this either.

Depending who you ask, vapers are either loudmouthed ill informed trolls who advocate for vaping because we are hopeless nicotine addicts seduced into doing so by our evil overlords, the tobacco industry, or we are experts by experience fighting for our lives and those of people like us.

Actually, most of us are neither of those things for the most part. The vast majority of vapers don’t advocate, or even identify as vapers. They are simply people getting on with their lives who also happen to vape.

This silent majority are mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters with ordinary and extraordinary lives to lead but our humanity is often obscured from view when the label of ‘vaper’ is applied.

We become numbers in a dataset, or a trend on a graph, defined more by what we do than who we are. We must never lose sight of the fact that behind every data point is a real person with strengths and weaknesses, desires and ambitions, and that every life is precious.

Engaged vapers see opponents as dogmatic ideologues who are happy to lie in order to win the debate, no matter who is harmed in the process. This comes from years of watching the same people manipulate evidence and publicise conclusions that no honest expert would be expected to come to.

At this point I’d have liked to be able to say that that view is clearly wrong. That the objections raised by opponents are honestly held beliefs and that they say what they do because they want to protect people from harm. I prefer to look for the good in people so I’m sure that’s true of many, but it certainly isn’t true for everyone.

People who care don’t shy away from engagement with the people they claim to care about. They don’t belittle and insult them or attempt to have them excluded from debate.

And they don’t discredit the value of the choices they make in order to stop others making those same choices.

As Martin Dockrell has said in the past, They support people to be as safe as they want to be, and respect their right to decide how to balance the risks and rewards of whatever they choose to do.

It’s easy for those of us engaged in this battle to think that the public is watching from the sidelines waiting to see who will win, but they’re not. They simply glance over every time it gets a bit noisy. Then they shrug their shoulders and say ‘I guess we still don’t know’.

As long as the apparent controversy continues, the public will trust only what they see with their own eyes, and what they see is bans, restrictions, warning labels and something that looks like smoking.

They perceive something dangerous, or at the very least, something antisocial and to be avoided.

They see addicts. Weak willed, social exiles just like smokers. Other people who should be prevented from doing something they don’t like – so who cares if their habit kills them – right? Just so long as they don’t do it near me.

They don’t see people who have given up smoking, or people who enjoy the use of nicotine just as they enjoy their morning coffee. They don’t see people who have given themselves the chance of a longer, healthier life.

Misperceptions are harmful in more ways then one. They breed intolerance, which supports restrictive policy, which in turn creates more misperceptions and more intolerance. Is it any wonder that many smokers don’t see the point of switching.

Those veterans I mentioned at the start say that harm reduction proposals are always met with denial and obstruction at the start but that common sense and pragmatism usually prevails eventually. I do hope they’re right.

But even in the U.K., which is supportive of harm reduction, the battle for hearts and minds is very far from being won.

 

 

 Watch the video of Sarah's talk here:

  

 

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Press Release 15th November 2018

The New Nicotine Alliance calls for a new approach from public health towards vaping and other safer nicotine products

  • Warring factions in public health are contributing to confusion and mistrust of effective alternatives to smoking
  • If the public’s health is to be properly served by state-funded organisations, accurate and impartial information is key
  • Misperceptions are harmful, breed intolerance, and are exacerbated by bans and restrictions on proven safer products
  • If public health advocates wish to see further reductions in smoking, public health needs to come together and win over hearts and minds.

Speaking at the E-Cigarette Summit at the Royal Society on 15th November, Sarah Jakes – Chair of the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) – will call for a new approach towards safer nicotine products.

Along with the increased availability of online information, the public has also been bombarded with less than honest propaganda from ideologically-motivated sources on products which carry a reduced risk, and which have contributed to the lowest smoking prevalence rates in the UK’s history.

“The public need to be able to trust that the information given to us by public health authorities is accurate and complete”, Jakes will say,” the vast majority of the public are not scientists, so they go with what they perceive to be a trustworthy source of information. But who can you trust when the authorities and experts are so divided?”

Jakes will highlight the febrile political debate currently taking place in the US, where truth about vaping has been abandoned in favour of moral posturing which serves no positive purpose for American smokers and urge campaigners to settle their ideological differences for the benefit of those they are tasked to help.

“The vast majority of vapers don’t advocate, or even identify as vapers. They are simply people getting on with their lives who also happen to vape. This silent majority are mothers, fathers, grandparents, brothers and sisters with ordinary and extraordinary lives to lead but our humanity is often obscured from view when the label of ‘vaper’ is applied.

“As long as the apparent controversy continues, the public will trust only what they see with their own eyes, and what they see is bans, restrictions, warning labels and something that looks like smoking.

“Misperceptions are harmful in more ways than one. They breed intolerance, which supports restrictive policy, which in turn creates more misperceptions and more intolerance. Is it any wonder that many smokers don’t see the point of switching?”

Smokers and vapers are not merely numbers in a dataset, or a trend on a graph, they are real people and should not be pawns in a political power game between different factions of the public health community. A new, more sympathetic approach is required.

“We must never lose sight of the fact that behind every data point is a real person with strengths and weaknesses, desires and ambitions,” Jakes will say, “and that every life is precious.

The NNA would like to see a new approach which places the consumer over and above dogma and insular point-scoring, one which treats nicotine users with more respect.

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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.

 

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Press release

The New Nicotine Alliance calls on the UK delegation to promote our country’s remarkable success with safer nicotine products at the World Health Organization’s COP8 summit in Geneva.

  • The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is holding its eighth biennial Conference of the Parties (COP) in Geneva from 1st to 6th October
  • The NNA calls on the UK delegation to take this opportunity to raise global awareness about the significant reduction in smoking prevalence enjoyed by this country as a result of light touch regulation of e-cigarettes and other alternatives to smoking
  • Developed nations are reaping great dividends from tobacco harm reduction, smokers in less affluent countries have a right to be afforded the same opportunities
  • The NNA encourages the UK delegation to resist prohibition of safer nicotine delivery products and reject bans on publicising them

LONDON, 28 September, 2018: The FCTC’s COP8 summit in Geneva presents a great opportunity for UK delegates to promote the UK’s dramatic success with e-cigarettes. The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) is calling on UK delegates to communicate to global public health representatives the clear and unequivocal message that e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products are far safer than combustible tobacco and should be treated as such.

“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts over 1.7 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead. In the UK, the government has wisely recognised the significant benefits that tobacco harm reduction strategies can achieve and, as a result of positive messaging towards vaping with campaigns such as Stoptober, has seen smoking prevalence dramatically plummet in recent years.” said NNA Chair Sarah Jakes.

“COP8 is a perfect opportunity for the UK to showcase this success and share our positive experience with the world. How can it be right that developed nations are enjoying great results in reducing the use of combustible tobacco by making safer alternatives available to smokers but sit by as less affluent nations are being railroaded into banning them by the WHO?”

The UK government’s Tobacco Control Plan committed to back innovative products in its drive to encourage smokers to quit, and its recommendations are evidence-based and designed to maximise the benefits of safer nicotine delivery. The World Health Organization recognises tobacco harm reduction as a guiding principle of its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, so it is quite wrong that it currently invites nations to prohibit use of these products.

“The WHO likes to talk about the right to health, but why is a smoker in India or Africa less entitled to access products which could help them quit smoking than a smoker in the UK or Canada?”, said Jakes, “Furthermore, we have heard worrying reports that the EU is planning to petition the FCTC to call for a global ban on e-cigarette advertising. It would be scandalous if the UK delegation is complicit in such an unwise move and goes against the government’s commitment to improve availability of innovative products. What is the point of talking positively of safer alternatives while simultaneously stopping smokers from seeing any publicity about them?

“In Geneva, the UK’s representatives have a golden opportunity to promote the UK’s success with safer nicotine products. We provide the FCTC with generous funding to reduce smoking rates in underdeveloped nations. We would therefore urge the government to use the influence our financial contribution brings and do the right thing. That is to reject prohibition of harm reduction which less affluent nations feel obliged to implement due to WHO misinformation, urge the FCTC to adhere to its own articles on the subject, and resist restrictions on promotion of less harmful alternatives to smoking”

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Sources

1.7 million e-cigarette users in the UK are ex smokers
ASH Fact Sheet: Use of e-cigarettes (vapourisers) among adults in Great Britain, September 2018, accessed via “New data shows smokers are getting the message on e-cigarettes” http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/ash-news-release-new-data-shows-smokers-are-getting-the-message-on-e-cigarettes/

UK Tobacco Control Plan: “Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting” (page 5) https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630217/Towards_a_Smoke_free_Generation_-_A_Tobacco_Control_Plan_for_England_2017-2022__2_.pdf  

The EU throws vapers under the bus again
https://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/2018/09/the-eu-throws-vapers-under-bus-again.html  

£15 million contribution to FCTC
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/639372/FCTC_2030.pdf

WHO recognises tobacco harm reduction as a guiding principle of FCTC
Article 1(d) of the FCTC
http://www.who.int/tobacco/framework/WHO_FCTC_english.pdf

 

 

 

Embargoed to 00:01 BST on 17th August 2018

The New Nicotine Alliance warmly welcomes the Science and Technology Committee’s report on e-cigarettes as a “beacon of enlightenment” for public health

  • The Committee is right to highlight misconceptions surrounding e-cigarettes and the NNA echoes the Committee’s call for risk-based regulation to encourage more smokers to switch to safer nicotine products
  • Streamlining MHRA processes for approving medically licensed products and permitting vaping in mental health facilities by default are brave proposals that could have a dramatic positive effect on how the public views their relative safety
  • Public perception of the benefits of vaping has stalled, so the NNA welcomes the Committee’s recommendations to liberalise advertising rules to allow health claims and its call for the benefits of e-cigarettes to be recognised by allowing their use more widely
  • The Committee’s proposals to review provisions in the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, to include heated tobacco products in the Government’s annual review of safer nicotine products, and its call for a review on the evidence supporting the ban on snus are also greatly welcomed

LONDON, August 17nd, 2018: The Government’s Science and Technology Committee – chaired by Sir Norman Lamb – today released a report on e-cigarettes containing several evidence-based policy proposals which would positively transform the way vaping is viewed by businesses, institutions and the public alike.

The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) warmly welcomes this report for its clear and unequivocal message that e-cigarettes and other alternative nicotine products are far safer than combustible tobacco and should be treated as such.

“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts 1.5 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead. The Science and Technology Committee has wisely recognised that misconceptions about e-cigarettes are threatening further progress in encouraging their use by smokers who choose to quit.” said NNA Chair Sarah Jakes.

“We welcome the Committee’s call for a root and branch review of how risk-reduced products are treated by businesses, institutions and government itself. The report is a beacon of enlightenment in an area of public health which is often burdened by dogma and outdated thinking towards the use of nicotine.

“This report dovetails with the government’s Tobacco Control Plan commitment to back innovative products in its drive to encourage smokers to quit, and its recommendations are evidence-based and designed to maximise the benefits of safer nicotine delivery. The World Health Organisation recognises tobacco harm reduction as a guiding principle of its Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, so we welcome the Committee’s call for the UK to become an even greater world leader in this field than is already the case.”

“There is a lot of confusion about e-cigarettes amongst the public, health institutions and businesses”, said Jakes, “this report is therefore timely and could have hugely positive implications for public health if its recommendations are implemented in full. Sir Norman’s committee has done an excellent job of peering through the mist of misunderstanding surrounding e-cigarettes and its policy proposals can go a long way to dispel the - often deliberately fabricated - misconceptions that are deterring many thousands of smokers from switching. We would urge the government to read the Committee’s findings carefully and act on them without delay”

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Note to Editors: The NNA is a registered UK charity staffed by consumer volunteers, formed to increase understanding about the benefits of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and a better recognition of long-term recreational use of nicotine as a powerful incentive for smoking cessation.

Sources

Committee Report: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee “E-cigarettes - Seventh Report of Session 2017–19” 
https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/505/505.pdf

Promote e-cigarettes widely as substitute for smoking (Royal College of Physicians)
https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/promote-e-cigarettes-widely-substitute-smoking-says-new-rcp-report

UK Tobacco Control Plan: “Backing evidence based innovations to support quitting” (page 5)
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/630217/Towards_a_Smoke_free_Generation_-_A_Tobacco_Control_Plan_for_England_2017-2022__2_.pdf

Increased public misperceptions about nicotine as harmful
Public Health England, Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products - McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2018). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review

Article 1(d) of the FCTC http://www.who.int/tobacco/framework/WHO_FCTC_english.pdf

 

Tobacco Policy: Commons Committee Urges Review Of Snus Ban

Embargo 00.01 Friday 17 August 2018

  • Commons Committee says government should reassess the ban on snus
  • The oral tobacco product has seen smoking rates in Sweden fall to 5%
  • Scientists describe the ban as “entirely disproportionate”
  • UK users of snus say it keeps them from smoking deadly cigarettes
  • Department of Health wants the ban to continue


A House of Commons Select Committee has urged the government to consider ending the 28 year old ban [1] on the oral tobacco product snus.

The Science and Technology Committee called for “an evidence-based assessment of the case for discontinuing the ban on ‘snus’ oral tobacco” to go alongside a comprehensive review of e-cigarette regulation. [2]

Snus is banned across the EU but its use in Scandinavia has been accompanied by huge reductions in smoking. In Sweden, which has an exemption from the EU ban, the smoking rate has plummeted to 5% - by far the lowest in the EU. [3] Snus is used by 20% of Swedish adults [4] and the country has the lowest level of tobacco-related deaths in Europe according to World Health Organisation figures. [5] In neighbouring Norway the smoking rate among young women has fallen from 30% to just 1% over the last 16 years. [6]

A succession of scientific reports [7] has found no evidence of mortality associated with snus use - including no link to oral cancer. [8] Action on Smoking and Heath says snus is “over 100 times less harmful” than smoking [9] and the World Health Organisation also regards it as far safer. [10]

Professor Riccardo Polosa, who gave oral evidence to the Select Committee, said that “there is a strong consensus among the scientific community that the ban on snus is entirely disproportionate. Without a shadow of a doubt snus is vastly safer than smoking.” [11]

Snus can be legally used in the UK but not sold. This has led to a lot of users importing it themselves including Premier League footballers [12] and Scandinavians living in the UK.

“I am very excited by the possible end of the snus ban. Snus has saved my life,” says Nikki Hallam who has used snus for the last two years. “Snus is the only thing which keeps me from going back to smoking,” she added.

Many non-Scandinavians also bring snus into the UK: “As soon as I get to the US where the FDA has authorised snus I buy an armful of tins which help keep me off the fags when I’m back in the UK” says Neil McLaren who lives in Kent and is the co-founder of Vaping. com.

Professor Gerry Stimson of the New Nicotine Alliance charity said: “This report is a milestone for harm reduction pointing the way to pragmatic, proportionate regulation of e-cigarettes. It is also the beginning of the end for the grotesque mistake of banning snus which has been hugely successful in reducing smoking and saving lives.” [13]

The European Court of Justice is currently reviewing the EU ban on snus. [14] The Department of Health told the Commons Committee that it opposed the EU legalising snus because of “controversy”. [15] Chewed tobacco which is used by half a million South Asians in the UK remains legal despite it being highly carcinogenic. [16]

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Contact

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Sources

[1] Snus Ban: It was banned in the UK in 1990 and the EU in 1992. Sweden had an exemption when it joined the EU in 1995. https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/1989/2347/introduction/made
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-134_en.htm
[2] Committee Report: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee “E-cigarettes - Seventh Report of Session 2017–19”: snus is mentioned on page 4 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/505/505.pdf
[3] Sweden Smoking Fall: Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
[4] Sweden Snus Use: Snus is legal in Sweden and 20% of people are daily users of oral/chewed/nasal tobacco. See footnote on page 73 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146
[5] Sweden Lowest Tobacco Mortality in Europe: Lars Ramström, Institute for Tobacco Studies, Sweden. Sweden’s pathway to Europe’s lowest level of tobacco-related mortality. Data from The Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors Study 2016, Lancet 2017; 390: 1345–422
[6] Norway 1% smoking rate: among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in sixteen years: Norwegian Smoking Data (select data using tick icons and then download to Excel). https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6
[7] Snus Health Impact: The Lancet: Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” See page 1364: http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf . Epidemiology: Two academic studies have shown that if snus were available in the rest of Europe it could save between 200,000 and 355,000 lives every year. Brad Rodu, 2004 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15074568 Snus Commission report, 2017 http://snuskommissionen.se/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Snuskommissionen_rapport3_eng_PRINT.pdf
[8] Oral cancer: for snus “no overall association is seen for oropharyngeal cancer”. See section 3.1 Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21163315
[9] Action on Smoking and Health: “the contradictory, illogical law on tobacco… leaves cigarettes legal while snus, which is over 100 times less harmful, is banned.” http://ash.org.uk/media-and-news/press-releases-media-and-news/eu-ruling-on-smokeless-tobacco-shows-need-for-independent-tobacco-regulation/
[10] World Health Organisation: Swedish snus is “considerably less hazardous than cigarettes”. Page 273 http://www.who.int/tobacco/global_interaction/tobreg/publications/9789241209519.pdf
[11] Professor Polosa Biography: https://www.e-cigarette-summit.com/speaker/professor-riccardo-polosa/
[12] Football: Jamie Vardy: snus use https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/news/jamie-vardy-pictured-chewing-tobacco-81893422 Charlie Adams says snus is prevalent amongst footballers: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/43598615
[13] Professor Gerry Stimson: https://nnalliance.org/nna-uk/board/67-stimson-gerry
[14] European Court of Justice asked to lift ban on snus. Latest proceedings: https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-europe-court-swedish-match/eu-court-adviser-says-ban-on-swedish-snuff-tobacco-product-valid-idUKKBN1HJ11G
[15] Department of Health Back EU Ban: Committee Report: House of Commons Science and Technology Committee “E-cigarettes - Seventh Report of Session 2017–19”: see paragraph 76 on page 33 https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmsctech/505/505.pdf
[16] Chewed Tobacco Risks: Government chemist shows harmful chemicals: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563632/ Also: South Asian women suffer 3.7 times more oral cancer than non-South Asians: https://www.nature.com/articles/6604191

UPDATE 

Further to our press release on this worrying issue, we were also pleased to be invited to add our signature to a letter which was sent to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, and the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock. Led by the UK Vaping Industry Association and also co-signed by prominent Westminster think tanks, the letter strongly criticised the concept of a tax on vaping and attracted significant media interest. You can read the letter in full here.

For immediate release

The New Nicotine Alliance strongly condemns reported proposals to tax vaping products in the UK as a “retrograde step”.

  • ‘Sin taxes’ are completely inappropriate for products which have helped over 1.5 million smokers switch to a safer alternative or quit completely
  • Smoking prevalence has plummeted since e-cigarettes went mainstream, it is unethical to tax consumers for quitting smoking which government claims to support
  • Public perception of the benefits of vaping has stalled. A new tax on these products would send a terrible message to smokers as to the reduced risk of vaping and is a retrograde step for public health

LONDON, August 2nd, 2018: Media reports today quote Whitehall sources claiming that taxation of vaping products is being considered for the autumn Budget.

The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) strongly condemns the concept of ‘sin taxes’ being applied to nicotine products which have a proven track record of helping smokers who choose to quit or dramatically reduce their risk of smoking-related disease.

“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts 1.5 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead. Applying a so-called ‘sin tax’ is completely inappropriate for products which have a successful track record of diverting smokers away from combustible tobacco. Switching from smoking to vaping is not ‘sinning’, it is the exact opposite.” said NNA Chair Sarah Jakes.
“The UK has spent decades trying to convince smokers to quit and devices that can deliver the nicotine they enjoy without the harm of combustible tobacco are a perfect solution for huge numbers of people. Vaping has been the catalyst for a dramatic decline in smoking prevalence in recent years. It is, therefore, highly unethical for government to then financially punish vapers, especially since public health campaigns like Stoptober actively encourage the use of e-cigarettes.

“Health groups in the UK rightly support tobacco harm reduction, as endorsed by the Behavioural Insights Team set up by government. Public Heath England also back vaping and the Royal College of Physicians urges wide promotion of e-cigarettes to reassure and encourage smokers to use them, as does the government’s own Tobacco Control Plan.

“The UK is regarded worldwide as a global leader in tobacco harm reduction and the results speak for themselves”, said Jakes, “however public perception of the benefits of vaping has stalled. Applying a tax can only further degrade general misperceptions by implying that vaping is a ‘sin’ and therefore dangerous. A new tax on vaping products would be unethical, sends entirely the wrong message to smokers, is at odds with current government policy, and would be a retrograde step for public health. It is a daft idea and one which we urge the Treasury to abandon immediately.”

The NNA strongly condemns a ‘sin tax’ on vaping products, instead we urge government to be more positive about harm reduction and commit to join with supportive public health bodies in correcting misplaced doubt towards successful consumer-driven solutions to smoking.

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

Note to Editors: The NNA is a registered UK charity staffed by consumer volunteers, formed to increase understanding about the benefits of “new” (risk-reduced) nicotine products and a better recognition of long-term recreational use of nicotine as a powerful incentive for smoking cessation.

Sources:

 

For immediate release

The New Nicotine Alliance applauds Sir Kevin Barron on voicing his commitment to e-cigarettes during yesterday’s Tobacco Control Plan debate and calls on government to be less cautious about the benefits of safer products for public health

● Sir Kevin Barron indicated that a “proper harm reduction strategy” would be “an important plank” towards reducing health inequalities

● As Sir Kevin revealed, smoking prevalence in Ireland has stagnated while here it has plummeted, emphasising how policy acceptance of harm reduction produces positive results for public health

● Public perception of the benefits of vaping has stalled. The NNA calls for more proactive messages from government to fully realise the potential of e-cigarettes and other safer nicotine products


LONDON, July 20th, 2018: Yesterday in a debate on the government’s Tobacco Control Plan in the House of Commons, Sir Kevin Barron highlighted the gulf between the UK and Ireland, two countries with identical traditional tobacco control policies but with differing approaches to e-cigarettes. Between 2012 and 2016 smoking dropped by nearly a quarter in the UK . In Ireland, where e-cigarettes are viewed with suspicion, the smoking rate actually went up in this period. 

Sir Kevin, who has 20 years’ experience of government policy surrounding tobacco, suggested that a “proper harm reduction strategy” which further welcomed the advent of innovative nicotine delivery products could deliver significant further benefits to public health in the UK.

The NNA applauds Sir Kevin’s bold vision of the increased role that tobacco harm reduction could play in the future of tobacco control policy and calls on Under-Parliamentary Secretary of State, Steve Brine, to be less cautious and to commit to promoting a better understanding of risk reduced products amongst health authorities under his charge.

“E-cigarettes are a proven safer alternative to smoking and the UK boasts 1.5 million former smokers who have converted from combustible tobacco to exclusively vaping instead. Sir Kevin’s comments are most welcome, but it is continually disappointing that Steve Brine is reluctant to recognise the part that recreational use of these products can play. Instead of adhering to a goal of total nicotine abstinence, it would be better to install policies which would encourage long-term use of alternatives.”, said NNA Chair Sarah Jakes.

“As mentioned during the debate, many smokers genuinely enjoy smoking and view giving up smoking as giving up on an enjoyable part of their life. Devices that can deliver the nicotine they enjoy without the harm of combustible tobacco are a perfect solution for huge numbers of people. Government should be more understanding of the pleasure that nicotine can deliver and of the reasons that current smokers continue to smoke.

“Pleasure should not be a dirty word when it comes to nicotine, just as it isn’t when talking about a pint in the pub or a welcome coffee in the morning. It is the combustion of tobacco which causes the harm, and if smokers are more confident in trying reduced risk products, there will be even more future public health successes, like the ones highlighted by Sir Kevin yesterday.

“The UK is regarded worldwide as a global leader in tobacco harm reduction and the results speak for themselves”, said Jakes, “therefore we hope that Mr Brine will show more leadership, and less caution, towards safer nicotine products to better enable him to achieve the ambitious targets that he has set in the government’s Tobacco Control Plan.”

 

Issued on behalf of the New Nicotine Alliance

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.

Sources:

Tobacco Control Plan debate 19 July 2018
https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2018-07-19/debates/AC4C0223-B31C-4AD8-A594-8CD963C96710/TobaccoControlPlan

UK smoking prevalence
19.6% in 2012, see Figure one: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2015

15.8% in 2016
https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/healthandsocialcare/healthandlifeexpectancies/bulletins/adultsmokinghabitsingreatbritain/2016#main-points

Ireland smoking prevalence
22% in 2012, see Chapter 3:
https://health.gov.ie/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/TobaccoFreeIreland.pdf

23% in 2016:
http://www.thejournal.ie/smoking-rates-ireland-3289319-Mar2017/

For immediate release

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.

Sources
WHO | World No Tobacco Day
World Health Organization page http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2018/world-no-tobacco-day/en/

UK smoking fall
UKCTAS press release issued 15.06.2017, Vaping may help explain record fall in UK smoking rates http://ukctas.net/smoking-rates-uk-2017

France smoking fall
France had a million fewer smokers in 2017: ministry ,AFP
https://au.news.yahoo.com/france-had-million-fewer-smokers-2017-ministry-142637749--spt.html?guccounter=1

Norway smoking fall
Norway 1% smoking rate: among young women smoking fell from 30% to 1% in sixteen years: Norwegian Smoking Data (select data using tick icons and then download to Excel).https://www.ssb.no/en/statbank/table/05307/?rxid=fba52324-e745-43b1-8740-058b118535f6 and bottom of Mirror article: https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/hospitals-sell-e-cigarettes-sick-11975398

Sweden smoking fall
Daily smoking fell in Sweden from 8% to 5% over the last three years. See page 27 of EU Eurobarometer 2017. http://ec.europa.eu/commfrontoffice/publicopinion/index.cfm/Survey/getSurveyDetail/instruments/SPECIAL/surveyKy/2146

Health impact of snus
The Lancet: Global Burden of Disease Study, 2017: No evidence of harm being done by long-term use of snus ”for any health outcome” page1364. http://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lancet/PIIS0140-6736(17)32366-8.pdf

WHO Ottawa Charter
http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/129532/Ottawa_Charter.pdf

WHO Jakarta Declaration
http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/milestones_ch4_20090916_en.pdf

WHO refuses to engage with consumers
NNA blog, The WHO abuses its authority, published 29.05.2018 https://nnalliance.org/blog/244-the-who-abuses-its-authority

Increased public misperceptions about nicotine as harmful
Public Health England, Evidence review of e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products - McNeill A, Brose LS, Calder R, Bauld L & Robson D (2018). https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-independent-expert-e-cigarettes-evidence-review

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.

Vaper Expo 2018

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 Vape Jam

    SoulOhm reviews on stage for NNA

raffle prizes Vape Jam

   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 forum panel debate

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)...

Alan Beard tweet

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.

DONATE TO NNA

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.

Full Video (to follow)

Short version

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. 

Click on the links below to see the videos:

The Switch (introduction)

The Switch (full)

Sarah's Story

Paul's Story

Paul B's Story

Lorien's Story

Glen's Story

Tom's Story

Catherine's Story

John's Story

 

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.”

To get involved in the study, volunteers can contact Dr Emma Ward by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by calling 01603 59230 or by texting 07765 072527. The online version of the study is at www.uea.ac.uk/medicine/research/addiction.

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.

Please do read the full briefing and have your say. Make sure your MP also understands your concerns.

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."

The Public Health England advice entitled 'Use of E-cigarettes in Workplaces' lists five key considerations when setting policy:

  • 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: 

https://vapersinpower.wordpress.com/2016/11/06/changing-how-your-council-sees-vaping/

The consultation on the advertising of of e-cigarettes closes today. The consultation document including the questions is here. You can read our response is here.

 

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