While 2019 offers much promise for the fortunes of reduced risk products, it has been a slow start to the year. Rather like when you arrive at your place of work and pour yourself a coffee or tea before getting down to the nitty-gritty, the post-Christmas lull is a time to prepare for bigger things to come. However, the NNA has still been working towards better recognition of safer nicotine products in January. We start this month’s round-up with a small victory for common sense.
Towards the end of 2017, Chesterfield Royal Hospital unveiled a new site-wide non-smoking policy which sadly included e-cigarettes. The architects of this initiative were photographed in the local press proudly standing in front of a sign which showed that they had a paltry understanding of harm reduction and had likely not read any guidance from government on the subject.
As a result, they fully deserved a place in our Challenging Prohibition Wall of Shame. However, it appears that this month they have had a change of heart, and now allow qualified vaping on-site. Sally Chadwick, nursing lead for policy change at Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust was quoted as saying that “The popularity of e-cigarettes has grown significantly over the past few years and the research carried out by PHE has helped us to clarify our position on them in terms of health promotion.”. Planet of the Vapes wrote more on this story, which you can read here.
While it is a shame they feel the need to be so overly cautious with e-cigarettes, it is to be welcomed that they have finally read PHE’s guidance and, presumably, will be taking down the expensive signs they commissioned before investigating the subject properly.
As a result, there will be one less entry in our rogue’s gallery and we hope 2019 will see more establishments realising that their policies should embrace those who choose to switch to safer products, rather than banning vaping despite the government’s Science and Technology Committee concluding that “there is no public health rationale” to do so.
On Thursday Professor Peter Hajek’s A Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy study was published, to considerable media interest. The study found that vaping doubles a smoker’s chances of quitting, when compared with NRT.
NNA trustee Louise Ross, a co-author on the study, writes:
Many readers won’t be surprised to see the results of this study, conducted by Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), demonstrating as it does that at 52 weeks post-quit, the vapers were twice as likely not to be smoking as those in the NRT group.
The participants were recruited from 3 English Stop Smoking Services (QMUL, Leicester and East Sussex), and they had to not mind whether they were allocated to the ecig arm or the NRT arm. Anyone with a strong preference received stop smoking support with the product of their choice, but they were not eligible to join the study.
After extensive follow-up, we now have good quality results that should be enough to persuade some of those sceptics that indeed, vaping IS an effective way to stop smoking. The other good news is that the vapers in the study were less likely to report respiratory symptoms than the NRT users.
LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND
NNA trustee David Mackintosh, co organiser of the Homelessness and Addiction conference, writes:
Jess Harding of the NNA attended the Addressing Complexity: Homelessness and Addiction conference at the City of London’s Guildhall on 18 January. This event was a collaboration between the London Drug and Alcohol Policy Forum and London South Bank University and was intended to help bring together the latest research with those working directly with individuals experiencing homelessness.
Dr Lynne Dawkins
While the role of alcohol and illegal drugs were covered alongside the impacts of gambling there was also discussion on the links to smoking and the potential of effective tobacco harm reduction with individuals who are homeless. Dr Lynne Dawkins provided an excellent outline of how many groups had been left behind as overall smoking rates declined. Within homeless populations smoking rates were at 77 -90% compared to just 17% within the general population. There is strong evidence that individuals in this group have a strong desire to quit smoking, however, their attempts are often unaided and unsuccessful. Given the potential health gains for individuals and the improvements this can yield in term of addressing inequalities this is an area where alternatives such as vaping should be explored.
It was clear that many in the audience recognised smoking as an overlooked area in terms of harm reduction work and the NNA is exploring how it can support efforts to ensure that those most at risk and in need are not left behind.
This month saw the release of a report which was co-authored by two NNA Trustees, Louise Ross and our Chair, Sarah Jakes. Entitled “What is the value of peer involvement in advancing tobacco harm reduction?” it was produced in partnership with Caitlin Notley of the University of East Anglia and Sharon Cox of South Bank University.
The report discussed the importance of involving consumers – or peers – in research in order to maximise the effectiveness of research into new nicotine delivery systems and how they are being embraced by the smoking public with very little input from public health and without costly coercive interventions paid out of taxpayer funds.
It concludes that “In future, we hope to see vapers as advocates advancing the research agenda through posing new research questions. The value of peer involvement in tobacco harm reduction is that, through interdisciplinary research, equally valuing the input of ‘experts by experience’ with academic specialisms, we will reach evidence-based answers to important research questions exploring what is essentially a peer-led phenomenon, with unprecedented potential for harm reduction.”. In other words, academics should be involving vapers in their investigations or else they will come up with unrealistic or incorrect results.
We have consistently argued that legislators should be consulting consumers before making policy – or, “nothing about us, without us”, as it is termed – and often bad policy follows from poor research which does not take consumers into account, so we are glad to see health researchers taking this subject seriously and seeing the benefits of peer involvement. You can read the full report here.
BELL JARS ON THE BBC
At the start of the month Public Health England produced a video comparing the emissions from smoking compared to vaping. During a period which was a news desert, the BBC took it up and featured it prominently on their website, which you can watch here. The demonstration involved testing the take-up of substances by cotton wool from sustained exposure to smoke and vapour.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
Trustees have been busy meeting with representatives of several organisations this month. An annual day-long board meeting thrashed out some future plans and there are some exciting initiatives on the horizon. It is too soon to reveal much except to say that once spring arrives there will be much to talk about on many fronts. If all goes to plan we may be inviting you to events and/or participating in activism in your local community. Watch this space.
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.
Last month we highlighted the option to 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.
You can also donate to the NNA via eBay, as we are registered as an eBay charity. You can add a donation when you buy something and you can also auction something 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 items would be gratefully received.
We have updated our donate page, to include all these options.
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Thank you, Devon Vapour!