While there has been a frenzy of irrational panic in the USA of late, February has been a comparatively slow month for tobacco harm reduction this side of the pond. Things picked up in the last week with a report by Public Health England into general use of e-cigarettes which we blogged about here but mostly things have been quite calm. NNA trustees were still active in some areas though, so here is an update.
TRUSTEE ON TOUR
NNA Trustee Louise Ross joined Professor Peter Hajek and Dr Katie Myers Smith of Queen Mary University, Martin Dockrell of Public Health England and other public health influencers on a tour of London, Birmingham and York. The tour was to share the findings of a Randomized Trial of E-Cigarettes versus Nicotine-Replacement Therapy, the results of which were published in the New England Journal of Medicine this month.
The events also encouraged attendees – which included Directors of Public Health, commissioners and clinicians, as well as stop smoking practitioners - to accelerate the translation of the results into practice. Martin Dockrell asked the audience to guess how long it typically takes to translate an RCT into practice. The answer is a staggering 17 years. He challenged audiences to act on the findings (that e-cigarettes are twice as likely to keep people smokefree at 12 months compared to NRT) within 17 weeks.
The panel were asked some challenging questions, and overall there was a perceptible enthusiasm to rise to the challenge. One of the recommendations made to attendees was that the new “gold standard” should be offering a vaping starter kit as one of the treatment options, which was very encouraging to hear voiced.
JUUL IN THE TOWN
The All-party Parliamentary Group on Vaping met on Tuesday to discuss the industry’s role in preventing youth uptake of vaping products. As the focus was on manufacturers and retailers, the NNA were not called to be involved on this occasion but our Admin Jessica Harding attended as an observer.
Representatives of BAT, Juul and the UKVIA made up the panel and subjects discussed included age verification, branding issues and advertising. Regarding the latter, all panellists expressed their frustration that they cannot make health claims that the government itself has recommended in its various publications.
While these issues were aimed at industry, they are still concerns which will impact on consumers depending on how legislators react. We have consistently argued that legislators should be consulting consumers before making policy so we hope that any recommendations which ensue will be made available for consumer groups such as ours to comment on. Jessica felt, though, that MPs on the day made a very good effort at putting the consumer case and was encouraged that they seem to have taken the NNA’s previous contributions on board.
RESEARCHING WHAT TO RESEARCH
NNA trustee Louise Ross has written a guest blog at Clive Bates’s Counterfactual site explaining her role in the E-cigarettes Priority Setting Partnership which we highlighted here last month. Louise told us that soon after the call went out for responses she was dealing with “barrow-loads” of suggestions for research topics.
At Clive’s site she explains further about the aims of the exercise:
“Despite the thousands of research studies that have been conducted in the last few years, there is still scant consensus among the people who make decisions for their populations.
“This exercise is about inviting, prompting and encouraging people from a diverse range of backgrounds to say, very simply, what questions they want to see answered by research. It won’t be a surprise to know that there was an overwhelming number of responses, and they’re still rolling in.”
Louise has said that the responses so far have been both encouraging and exasperating in equal measure, but the initiative is helping to tease out issues that stakeholders on all sides feel need to be explored. You can read her guest article here and respond to the survey by 20th March here.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
This week we published an update from Ingmar Kurg of NNA Smoke Free Estonia on some chequered news from Tallinn. The Estonian parliament seemed to be reaching a consensus on regulating e-cigarettes sensibly before politics kicked in and the proposals had to be postponed till after new elections have taken place. However, this is a significant step forward in a country that has been largely negative before and we hope that the harm reduction delegation our trustees were part of in November has swayed a few minds. You can read Ingmar’s account of the tumultuous parliamentary shenanigans here and we will keep you posted on future developments.
Other NNA trustees are scheduled for events in Australia and Africa in coming months, so we continue to try to spread the harm reduction message overseas. We will also have a representation again at the Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw in June.
NNA Chair Sarah Jakes has been confirmed as a speaker at the UKVIA’s annual Forum in London in May. She will be part of a panel debating “Is the UK becoming vape unfriendly? What more can be done to ensure the UK does not stop vapers vaping?”. The environment for vapers seems to vary in different areas of the country so this will be an interesting discussion which we will cover in our blog after the event.
Lastly, it has been confirmed that NNA representatives will be in attendance at Vape Jam at the Excel Centre, London, in April where the organisers have kindly said they will be holding a raffle to raise funds for our cause. Talking of which …
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.
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.
You can also encourage your supportive friends and family to sign up as Supporters and to get updates about our work by clicking here.
Thank you to Vapers Online, in Street, Somerset, for hosting this charity box. We really appreciate your support.