June was relatively quiet for the NNA with many trustees, associates and supporters converging on Warsaw for the fifth Global Forum on Nicotine, but there is still plenty to report. Here are just some of our activities in the past month.
Sliding into the news
Caitlin Notley of the University of East Anglia attracted a large amount of media attention in June with a study entitled “The unique contribution of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction in supporting smoking relapse prevention”. The NNA helped with the study, which was recognised in the acknowledgements. In particular, the revelation that many smokers ‘slide’ into e-cigarette use without ever intending to – the accidental quitter phenomenon of which many of you will be well aware – gained column inches with both The Sun and Daily Mail reporting on how “vaping helps smokers quit even if they don’t want to”. Medical Express also carried the story and it went worldwide with articles in other countries such as France and Spain. We regularly emphasise to public health researchers that consumers such as the NNA should be involved in their studies to better understand the motivations of those who choose to use risk reduced nicotine products. This heightened media interest shows that taking such an approach can help researchers accurately reflect the nicotine market and, consequently, gain wider recognition.
Axe the tax
We may be leaving the EU (or maybe not, who knows?) but the NNA has been happy to add our support to an initiative working towards blocking an EU-wide tax on vaping products. The French consumer group SOVAPE has started a petition inviting vapers and other interested EU citizens to “Act now to stop the EU vape tax”, to which we are proud to lend our complete support, along with sixteen of the other EU consumer associations. At time of writing the petition has attracted around 8,000 signatures, so please sign it and share widely on social media channels. Let's send the message to the EU that taxation of products which are helping many people to switch from combustible tobacco is not acceptable.
You can access the petition by clicking here.
The consultation itself takes only around ten minutes to complete and we would urge you to respond to it, you can find it here:
Voicing on vapour
Vapour Voice and Vapouround magazines both featured articles on different aspects of harm reduction in June, and trustee Martin Cullip was quoted in both. Vapour Voice carried an article on the foolishness of banning flavours, as San Francisco has recently done, and which threatens to spread across America. Martin pointed out that the dog whistle use of children to drive the debate does not consider that public health authorities regularly find adults and children like the same kind of foods, and that “The wide variety of flavours helps distance adult vapers from their former smoking experience, so it is irresponsible to obstruct that over a largely irrational moral panic.”. Later in the month Vapouround ran a piece on the harm reduction experience in Japan, Sweden and the UK. Martin highlighted that there are different strokes for different folks and that a plethora of products should be made available. “One harm-reduced product or one type of harm-reduced product just won’t cut it,” he said. “That would be like asking everyone who likes a tipple to just drink beer”. You can view the latest issue of Vapour Voice here and of Vapouround here.
Polished in Poland
As mentioned last month, NNA representatives were prominent at the Global Forum on Nicotine, held in Warsaw in mid-June. Sarah Jakes’ plenary presentation has been published on our blog here along with Martin Cullip’s introductory remarks prior to a plenary debate about who we should trust in the nicotine debate, which you can read here. We also published our overall thoughts on the event here and displayed a poster to delegates on the snus case on which we intervened. You can view videos of the filmed sessions at this YouTube link.
Louise Ross, Derek Yach and Martin Cullip at the "Who can we trust?"plenary debate at the GFN
Parrots mean prizes
This year’s GFN featured a film festival for the first time and we are thrilled to report that the NNA had a hand in the winning entry. The National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training (NCSCT) produced a humorous film in April entitled “Passive Vaping: A guide for parrots” in partnership with the NNA. The film won the ultimate accolade of Best Film at the festival, with the award being collected by NNA Chair Sarah Jakes and NNA associate Louise Ross. Best Director and Best New Director awards were won by a crowd-funded film led by French consumer organisation Aiduce and a film student from the UK respectively. You can view the winning film at the NCSCT’s YouTube channel here.
Louise Ross and Sarah Jakes collecting the Best Film award from Aaron Biebert
Ask the experts
NNA trustee Andy Morrison has taken part in many research programmes in the last few years, including research with CRUK and Oxford University and has now taken on a role of mentor in a new study on harm reduction opportunities for the homeless.
Researchers have found that their efforts are often not as successful as expected in this field. They have previously used inappropriate equipment for people switching from smoking to vaping, and not paid enough attention to the needs and motivations of smokers wishing to quit. Andy will be contributing his expertise to a feasibility study into the use of electronic nicotine devices with homeless populations in Dublin, in particular advising on the appropriate kit to recommend and the way to best incentivise differing options. This is important research and we are pleased that Andy has been invited to give the all-too-often overlooked vapers' perspective.
Sense and the city
NNA trustee David MacIntosh writes a regular blog for City Health International – a movement looking at making structural improvements to ecological health in city environments – and has this to say about tobacco harm reduction options in his latest contribution:
“Over the last few years we have seen a new phenomenon emerge, vaping. This is arguably one of the greatest contributions to reducing smoking we have seen in many years and, with the honourable exceptions of Public Health England and a few far sighted individual areas and practitioners, it has occurred outside the realm of traditional tobacco control. While there are other tobacco harm reduction products with an impressive pedigree, look at the Swedish experience of snus (and please do look this up), this is geographically limited to Scandinavia. Vaping is a global phenomenon which has unsettled the established order."
You can read the whole article at the City Health website here.
Tomorrow’s news today
The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee report is expected to be published in late July. Sarah Jakes gave evidence to the proceedings alongside trade bodies the UKVIA and IBVTA. Sarah urged politicians to redouble their commitment towards harm reduction, and to build on the convincing evidence of the benefits of risk-reduced nicotine products, especially with Brexit on the horizon. We hope that the committee has taken our comments on board and are optimistic that the report will be positive.
This isn’t the end of the NNA’s involvement in Westminster. The All Party Parliamentary Group on E-cigarettes will be holding its next meeting about vaping regulation post-Brexit on July 11th, and NNA Chair Sarah Jakes will be speaking at the event. We will be sure to let you know how it goes so keep an eye on the blog.
Additionally, trustee John Summers has been elected onto the board of the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO) as their treasurer. The NNA has had great success in the UK and we are very pleased that John is on board to help advise on how good practice can lead to favourable results in other jurisdictions as well.
John Summers with INNCO's Nancy Sutthoff and Kim Dabelstein
What can you do to help?
Please remember that NNA trustees give their time for free, and we rely on your generous donations to continue to ensure consumer voices are heard. Please keep your donations coming in via the donate button below, and if you can commit to a standing order or regular PayPal payment it would be gratefully received.