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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.


Tobacco Control Plan debate 19 July 2018

UK smoking prevalence
19.6% in 2012, see Figure one:

15.8% in 2016

Ireland smoking prevalence
22% in 2012, see Chapter 3:

23% in 2016: