It may be holiday time, but there was no rest for the NNA in a very busy month. Here are just some of the things we got up to in August.
The biggest news of the month came on the 17th with the much-awaited release of the Science and Technology Committee’s report on e-cigarettes. It advocated a more mature debate about harm reduction products and made a plethora of welcome recommendations on regulations, advertising restrictions and future NHS policies, as well as calling for measures to drive a better public perception of use in mental health facilities and in public places.
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.
AND THEN THERE WAS SNUS
The Committee’s report also recommended a revisit of the science behind the unnecessary EU-wide ban on snus, instigated by the UK in a storm of ill-informed moral panic in the 1980s and adopted by the EU despite its contribution to Sweden boasting by far the lowest smoking rates in Europe.
Former NNA Chair Professor Gerry Stimson was quoted in the Daily Mail hailing the report as “a milestone for harm reduction” and “the beginning of the end for the grotesque mistake of banning snus”, and wrote to The Times, where he stated that “the health department is at war with science in its opposition to snus”, you can read his letter here.
Gerry also appeared on Radio 4’s lunchtime consumer affairs show You and Yours explaining the beneficial recommendations of the Science and Tech Committee’s report, which you can listen to here.
VAPES ON A TRAIN
Understandably, considering the committee report’s bold statements on the use of e-cigarettes in public places, there was a strong backlash on social media from those who have a scant understanding of what vaping is and why smokers are increasingly switching.
NNA trustee Martin Cullip wrote on this subject at Spiked under the provocative title “Let people vape on trains”. Martin argued that the idea should not be controversial, and that the public reaction merely reinforces the committee’s call for a more educated debate about vaping and its role for public health in the UK. He ran through the common objections to vaping in public and why they are mostly founded on misconceptions. It created quite a discussion in the comments, you can read the article here.
VAPE TAX SCRAP
Following a letter co-signed by the NNA condemning a rumoured tax on vaping in the UK, this month trade association UKVIA received assurance from the Treasury confirming that there are no plans to introduce such a retrograde step in the budget.
Some might say that an anonymous Treasury source quoted in the media should have been ignored, but politics is a dirty business and it wouldn’t be the first time an absurd policy has been flown in the press to gauge reaction. Responding forcefully was a politically-expedient exercise to make it clear to government that any such tax threat will be opposed vigorously. You can read our updated press release on this issue here.
There is still the spectre of vaping being sucked into the EU Tax Directive though, and the consultation ends in only a matter of days on September 3rd. It is important – if you have not already done so – that you send a message to the EU that this is not acceptable. You can find everything you need to know in order to respond to the consultation by clicking here.
Just this week, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) released an advisory report on how stop smoking services should collaborate with local vape shops to encourage smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. The guidance was produced in co-operation with the NNA and the IBVTA trade association and is a pragmatic step in assisting stop smoking services to meet people where they are at in their quit attempt, something the NNA has consistently recommended.
You can read its advice by clicking here.
The London Vape Show took place last weekend and the NNA took part in a Speaker’s Corner event there to discuss political and advocacy issues with vapers. It took the form of two panel debates on the Saturday and Sunday. Sarah Jakes took to the stage on the Saturday to give opinions on subjects as diverse as vape taxes, public space bans and global policy towards harm reduction, while Martin Cullip fielded questions on Sunday on an equally diverse range including the future for risk reduced products in the UK post-Brexit and public perception of vaping.
Sarah Jakes, John Dunne, Daniel Pryor and Christopher Snowdon at the Speakers Corner panel debate at the London Vape Show
IN WITH THE NEW
Sadly, former trustees Andy Morrison and John Summers have left us this month for personal reasons but will remain as associates to help with areas in which they have unique expertise. However, we are delighted to welcome new trustees Louise Ross and Bernice Evans.
Louise was formerly head of Leicester stop smoking services and is a staunch supporter of e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation aid. She is currently helping with a video to kick off an Irish Swaptober campaign. Watch this space.
Bernice is formerly of Vapers in Power and was heavily involved in garnering publicity for vapers standing in general and regional elections when the rights of vapers to speak out politically was unclear. We are very pleased to have both on board.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
Not much can be said about it yet, but we have been in talks on the possibility of a new NNA branch in another EU member state to complement NNA Sweden and NNA Estonia within Europe, along with our well-established sister NNA organisation fighting hard for legalisation of vaping in Australia. We hope to have more on this new development soon.
Coming months promise to be equally busy for the NNA. The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control’s COP8 meeting is planned for the start of October and will see the launch of an important report written by Harry Shapiro on behalf of Knowledge Action Change. Paddy Costall, Gerry Stimson and Jessica Harding will also be travelling to Geneva for the event, as will Martin Cullip. Martin will also be speaking at two panel debates at Conservative Party conference at the start of October.
More on all those snippets in next month’s round-up.
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