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.