As we put our clocks forward and look forward to lighter evenings in the UK, there is plenty of activity upcoming in the area of tobacco harm reduction, some good, some bad. This month’s newsletter touches on some of these happenings and NNA activity.
We start with ominous news coming from the EU, where Health Commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, who has in the past described e-cigarettes as “a danger to public health”, has been giving his thoughts about a review of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) which could come as early as this year.
In an interview with Euractiv this month, Andriukaitis says that “If one uses electronic cigarettes as a method to stop smoking, it has to be managed by medical doctors and specialists, to be sold in pharmacies and not in supermarkets.”. It seems clear that he rejects the terms of the TPD and is determined to go back in time to reverse even the small concessions that vapers earned the last time the EU wanted to medicalise reduced risk consumer products. His words cannot be taken lightly considering he wields a lot of power, no matter how ignorant his understanding of the subject, especially since his deputy recently compared vaping to poison.
The NNA will be monitoring messages coming out of Brussels and you can be assured that if unwise ideas such as Andriukaitis’s begin to look like a real threat, we will be doing our best to co-ordinate a call to action to once again to head it off. Stay alert and keep an eye on our website and social media, we could be in for another arduous battle against the EU and the nefarious activists who advise them, and we’d need all the help we can muster from you to do so.
BLESS THE BRAINS DOWN IN AFRICA
The NNA’s Gerry Stimson, Kevin Molloy and Jessica Harding took part in a trip to Malawi and Kenya to spread the message of harm reduction in Africa this month, meeting with representatives of the Campaign for Safer Alternatives in Africa and THR Malawi while there.
The Campaign for Safer Alternatives is launched in Nairobi
Africa presents a drastically different landscape than here; alternative nicotine products are not widely available and are out of reach for most people due to being expensive and - in Malawi - many don’t even have access to electricity. Snus seems a much more appropriate product, especially as tobacco leaves are readily accessible. Due to tobacco presenting Malawi with 60% of its GDP, the crop is called “the green god” and any discussions on tobacco need to be very sensitive to the fact that the economy relies on it. In another contrast to the UK, there are no tobacco control measures, to the extent that many people aren’t aware that smoking is unhealthy, let alone what to expect when they stop smoking, and nicotine replacement therapy is scarcely available. It is clear that global tobacco control organisations are failing Africa and there is a real need for education around alternatives.
Meeting with tobacco farmers near Lilongwe, Malawi
MAY SHE BE SO BOLD
This month, NNA trustee Louise Ross has been particularly busy. She was part of a panel talking to stop smoking practitioners, healthcare workers and commissioners about how the use of vaping could accelerate the fall in smoking rates in the Wirral. Along with Professor Peter Hajek, Dr Alex Bobak, Elizabeth Woodworth, the local stop smoking lead and the Wirral Director of Public Health, Louise helped answer many thought-provoking questions to the audience.
Louise reported that the stop smoking team were well-informed already about e-cigarettes and confident about getting smokers to switch. In the post-event discussion, some healthcare workers told Louise about the personal battles they had fought and won to get colleagues to understand the benefits of being positive about vaping. One practitioner had heard Louise talk before and had gone back to work determined to act on what she had learned, which was very encouraging.
Louise also submitted the common-sense answer to the question “should the use of e-cigarettes be encouraged among smokers?” in the Nursing Times this month. It is disappointing that anyone could disagree with this suggestion – especially amongst health professionals – but the debate-style article featured one such individual, nonetheless. You can read the arguments for and against here.
As if that wasn’t enough, Louise was also filmed by Filter giving her thoughts about the real-life practicalities of harm reduction via vaping and how she had changed her mind from being initially against but now very much in favour of e-cigarettes. You can watch the video below or at this link and hear her views on what is happening in America, prefaced with the very British “my advice to the United States, if I may be so bold”. Well worth a watch.
VAPING AND THE HOMELESS
There is a lot of work being done behind the scenes about vaping and homeless populations. Studies are being undertaken by some institutions and the NNA is active in this area with Trustee David MacKintosh holding discussions about the subject with key individuals tasked with helping those who live on the streets. There is not much we can say about it just yet but we are pleased to be consulted on what is a very important policy area.
THEY NEED YOU!
The NNA has been publicising a call for people willing to take part in a study by University College London on possible health effects of vaping or using a heat-not-burn device. Participants will have to attend one or two sessions in London but will be remunerated with Amazon vouchers and reimbursement of expenses as is customary with public health studies of this type. Planet of the Vapes has published all the details here so if you are close to London, do consider putting yourself forward.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
The second VApril campaign led by the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) is launching on 1st April and the NNA has been involved to help produce a “Switch on to vaping plan” which you can read here. By the time you read this the campaign will be well under way, but it is technically still future news for a March newsletter. You can read our thoughts on VApril on our blog article here.
Are you jamming with us this year? Vape Jam 2019 takes place from the 11th to 13th of April and the NNA will again be well represented. Martin Cullip, Bernice Evans Jessica Harding and Andy Morrison will be there so please come to the NNA stand to say hello. The organisers have once again very kindly organised the raffle for us - a big thank you to Maria and P Vaper! We will be selling raffle tickets for prizes which - in past years - have included Frankenskull mods, Amber mods, SVA mods and many others.
Lot 1 in the 2018 Vape Jam raffle
Trustee Martin Cullip will also be participating in a panel debate at the event organised with UKVIA. Topics discussed will include: vaping awareness; what does responsible marketing look like; and how can we get the message about vaping to the UK’s smokers. We hope to see many of you there so please swing by our stall if you are planning to attend.
Lastly, the 5th Glasgow School of Vape is taking place at the Woods Bar, 29 Waterloo Street, Glasgow G2 6BZ on 28th April from midday till 11pm, NNA Associate Andy Morrison will be in attendance and you will be welcome to join him. The event aims to bring vapers together with other vapers and retailers and seeks to be a place where beginners and veterans can learn and teach. There will be a selection of Scotland's top vendors there and food (Including vegan and vegetarian) will be available throughout the day. If you require any other information, email
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EFVI image credit Krisztian Pifko http://www.efvi.eu/