As we prepare to celebrate the new year and move into 2019, it is time to look back on a momentous year in the life of the NNA. As you will see from this round-up, it has been a very busy one but none of it is possible without you, the consumers. By sharing our posts, by making a financial donation, by giving us your time, encouragement and feedback, your support has been crucial. We hope we can count on more of the same next year. To learn how donate to the NNA and support our work, please see the bottom of this page. In the meantime, here are just some highlights from a successful year.
At the start of 2018, we had just unveiled our Challenging Prohibition campaign designed to oppose vaping bans. The campaign page has been regularly updated throughout the year and we have heard of many successes along with more powerful voices aligning with our own in the past 12 months, more of that later.
2018 began with a surprise announcement by tobacco company Philip Morris that they were making a ‘new year’s resolution’ to move towards a smokefree future by placing full page advertisements in three prominent and widely read UK newspapers. It created much controversy, but the NNA gave a very cautious welcome to Philip Morris’s goals, which you can read here.
January also saw the European Court of Justice hear the case to lift the EU-wide ban on snus, to which the NNA was an intervenor on behalf of European smokers. We were heartened to have TV personality Stephen Fry on our side, but sadly not some EU member states who argued to maintain the ban despite the stratospheric success of the product in reducing smoking prevalence in Scandinavian countries.
The fourth Glasgow School of Vape took place at the end of the January and was attended by trustees and supporters of the NNA. Sadly, the ghastly anti-vaping signs they found at Glasgow airport on arrival were disappointing, as you can read here. Former NNA trustee Andy Morrison contacted the airport in February to explain why their decision to ban vaping outdoors where buses, cars and taxis drop off and pick up is ill-advised. Pointless and counterproductive bans like this are what our Challenging Prohibition campaign was designed to counter by way of imparting better education to policymakers who may not understand about safer nicotine products.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping began holding evidence sessions this year on what a good workplace policy should be for use of harm reduction products such as e-cigarettes. NNA Trustee Martin Cullip gave evidence to the parliamentarians chaired by Mark Pawsey MP, as did NNA Administrator Jessica Harding. In Jessica’s case, she came up against a TUC representative who seemed strangely keen to ensure workers had no rights whatsoever to improve their health by using less harmful products to replace smoking, as you can read here.
March also saw a curious moral panic in the media about footballers using snus. The NNA argued that it is important to remember that players may be using snus to replace smoking and that should be the story, not the media frenzy which NNA Chair Sarah Jakes described as “nonsense on stilts” in our press release here.
Sadly, the Advocate General gave his opinion on the challenge to the EU’s snus ban in April and it was a poor one. Ruling more on the legitimacy of the EU being entitled to impose a ban than the potential public health benefits that the ban removes, it was an opinion which ignored the right to health of smoking consumers. Former NNA Chair Gerry Stimson commented that “the court now seems set to ignore the overwhelming interests of EU citizens” in our media release which you can read here.
NNA Chair Sarah Jakes took part in two panel debates in April, firstly an event hosted by the New Statesman entitled “When might England become Smokefree?” which took place within the shadow of the House of Commons, which you can read about here, before later in the month joining with Gerry Stimson in a panel at the UKVIA Forum chaired by the Science and Technology Committee’s Chair and former Health Minister, Sir Norman Lamb, who was conducting an enquiry into vaping and other harm reduction methods in Parliament at the time. It was not to be the only time this year that Sarah was to engage with political grandee Sir Norman, as you will see if you read on.
April also saw the launch of a humorous educational short film entitled “Passive Vaping: A guide for parrots” by the National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training which calmly debunks many of the myths spread about vaping. We were proud to have partnered with the NCSCT in producing the film which you can view here.
The smart mouse teaches the worried parrot about vaping
The UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee held an oral evidence session for their e-cigarettes inquiry in May, and NNA Chair Sarah Jakes gave evidence to the committee, which was chaired by Sir Norman Lamb, alongside John Dunne of the UKVIA and Fraser Cropper of IBVTA. You can read our report on the day here and watch the full hearing at Parliament TV here and on YouTube here.
The World Health Organisation continued to ignore harm reduction this month, by firstly refusing to read the NNA’s response to their consultation on Non-Communicable Diseases and then by completely overlooking reduced risk products in their World No Tobacco Day literature. The NNA accused the WHO of abusing its authority by ignoring consumer submissions here, and described their insistence on marginalising harm reduction as “a missed opportunity” here.
Also this month, an NNA team of Jessica Harding, Andy Morrison, John Summers, Martin Cullip and Sue Wilson attended Vaper Expo in Birmingham, discussed by Ecicg Click here, while NNA Trustee Paddy Costall travelled to Canada where he was interviewed by Regulator Watch and spoke favourably of Canada’s approach towards harm reduction options, which you can watch here.
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”. NNA Chair Sarah Jakes 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”.
The Global Forum on Nicotine took place in Warsaw this month and the NNA was well represented. NNA Chair Sarah Jakes’ plenary presentation has been published on our blog here along with trustee 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.
The aforementioned NCSCT film “Passive Vaping: A guide for parrots” was awarded top prize in the inaugural GFN film festival and Martin Cullip was also quoted in both Vapour Voice and Vapouround magazines.
NNA Trustees Louise Ross and Sarah Jakes collecting the Best Film award from Aaron Biebert
July saw another visit to Westminster to advise MPs from a consumer point of view, this time on the issue of vaping post-Brexit. NNA Chair Sarah Jakes took part in a discussion at the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping as to the implications for risk-reduced products once the UK leaves the EU. You can read our thoughts on how it went here.
NNA trustees Paddy Costall, David MackIntosh and Sairah Salim-Sartoni also formed a delegation to meet with NHS experts on how to improve accessibility of harm reduction products for homeless populations, while Sarah Jakes was featured in a long form interview by Tobacco Reporter magazine where she spoke of her aspiration that no smoker be left behind without a reduced risk option that they might find helpful. You can read the full interview here.
August was a ground-breaking month for our cause with the release of the influential 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. All of their recommendations were later accepted by the government in full.
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. Our trustees and supporters were on the airwaves and TV from morning till night. 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, while Martin Cullip wrote of the benefits of allowing vaping in public places in a Spiked article which you can read here.
As if that wasn’t enough, we also found time to engage in two panel debates on vaping policy at the London Vape Show and urged consumers on social media to submit responses to the EU Tax Directive in order to convince them not to include e-cigarettes or liquid in the EU’s tax plans.
In September, Spain held its first Tobacco Harm Reduction conference, organised by MOVE (Medical Organisations supporting Vaping and Electronic Cigarettes) in Barcelona. Among the speakers were former NNA Chair Professor Gerry Stimson and NNA trustee Louise Ross. Between them they shared their experience of the UK’s success with harm reduction options and how it is reminiscent of beneficial approaches towards reducing harm from drugs in the past.
The NNA also sent a detailed response to a consultation by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as to what should be included in their scope for smoking cessation advice to practitioners. We were pleased to see that they took many of our suggestions on board. Meanwhile in London, the NNA organised vaping consumers to be interviewed by Hong Kong TV about what vaping has done for their health and welfare.
October saw the launch of a new resource from the National Centre for Smoking Cessation Training (NCSCT) aimed at advising smokers how to “stay switched” using e-cigarettes, which you can view here. It was produced by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the NNA and Cancer Research UK.
NNA trustees also travelled to Geneva this month to attempt to engage with the WHO at its 8th Conference of the Parties. A report entitled No Fire, No Smoke: The Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction was launched on October 2nd and over 200 copies distributed amongst WHO delegates. NNA Administrator Jessica Harding accessed the WHO event and later joined with consumer representatives and members of INNCO (the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organizations) for a demonstration outside the Palais de Nations in an attempt to persuade delegates to take on board harm reduction options.
NNA Trustee Martin Cullip travelled to Birmingham to take part in two events at the Conservative Party Conference and was featured in the Evening Standard’s Londoner Diary on the back of comments he made while there, which you can read here. Additionally, Jessica Harding featured in The Filter with a very thoughtful essay on why “Vaping Isn’t About Big Business—It’s About Us, the Vapers” which you can read here.
Towards the end of the month, a new campaign by Philip Morris was launched in the national media seeking to help smokers switch to safer products. There was an outcry from public health groups objecting to a tobacco company embarking on such a project, but the NNA argued on our blog that “It shouldn't matter who makes safer products” which you can read here.
The highlight of November was undoubtedly a significant report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Vaping calling for better workplace vaping policies. The document made five policy recommendations, all of them positive towards vaping, the most striking of which being a call for the government to lead by example and make the parliamentary estate vape-friendly.
As you would expect, this created much media interest with articles appearing in the Daily Mail and The Sun – which quoted our press reaction at length - and many local syndicated news outlets. NNA Trustee Martin Cullip and Administrator Jessica Harding both gave evidence to the APPG’s hearings and were referenced in the report itself, which you can read in full here. The NNA welcomed the report and we were keen to encourage APPG Chair Mark Pawsey MP so Sarah Jakes presented him with one of our ‘considerate vaping welcome’ signs which we hope will become commonplace in due course. You can read our press release welcoming the report here.
The Advertising Standards Authority announced in November that it would allow health claims in vaping publicity in future which the NNA was happy to welcome. You can read our thoughts on this encouraging development here.
Also in November, NNA Chair Sarah Jakes was invited to address the sixth E-Cigarette Summit in London and reminded public health delegates present that “misperceptions [towards safer nicotine products] 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?”. We issued a press release on the morning of the summit and you can read a full transcript and watch Sarah’s speech here.
Sadly, in what was a generally positive month for harm reduction in the UK, in Luxembourg the opposite was happening as the ECJ predictably rejected arguments to lift the ban on snus. The NNA branded the ECJ’s ruling “scandalous” and “a blow to the public health of EU citizens” in our press release in reaction to the judgement which you can read here.
With squabbles surrounding Brexit taking centre stage towards the end of the year, and Christmas approaching, opportunities for advocating on nicotine were limited. However, the Global State of Harm Reduction Report was given an airing in the Churchill Room at the House of Commons in front of over 50 guests, with Viscount Ridley also praising previous reports in 2018 from the Science and Technology Committee and the APPG on Vaping, along with recognising the input made by consumer groups such as ours.
Viscount Ridley addresses guests in the House of Commons
All in all, 2018 has seen the debate on safer nicotine products in the UK take some significant steps forward and we at the NNA hope for further success in 2019 but we need your help. So with that in mind, we wish you a Happy New Year and please take a few moments to read how you can assist us below.
What you can 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.
You can also effortlessly donate to the NNA if you shop via the Amazon Smile page and select NNA as your charity. You can support New Nicotine Alliance (UK) by starting your shopping from this link.
Donating to the NNA via eBay is another option, as we are registered as an eBay charity. You can add a donation when you buy something and you can also auction your own items and choose to donate part or all the proceeds to us. We are always open to donated items which we can sell to raise funds too, all would be gratefully received.