May has been relatively quiet on the harm reduction front but there are looming threats from the WHO and the EU coming down the track that we need to stay alert for. Here is what the NNA has been up to this month, but also some preliminary information on what we fear could be a sinister and science-free attack on alternative nicotine products in the next year or so via the revisited EU Tobacco Products Directive (TPD3) and the unelected WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC).
WORLD QUIT OR DIE DAY
The 31st May was the World Health Organisation’s No Tobacco Day but – once again – there was no mention of how reduced risk products like e-cigarettes could contribute to this goal. We wrote last year about how this was a massive lost opportunity, but it seems that the WHO is not interested in the proven success of vaping despite article 1d of its FCTC constitution specifically stating that harm reduction should be embraced.
Instead, the WHO are planning to embark on a campaign to persuade governments to treat vaping the same as smoking all over the world. In a submission to the WHO’s General Assembly this month, the FCTC declared it wanted to “prioritize measures that prevent initiation of novel and emerging tobacco products, protect people from exposure to their emissions, prevent health claims being made for such products, avert their promotion, regulate the contents and disclosure of the contents of novel and emerging tobacco products, and regulate, including restriction or prohibition of the manufacture, importation, distribution, presentation, sale and use of novel and emerging tobacco products”. As usual, the FCTC is incorrectly classifying e-cigarettes as tobacco to bolster its Luddite action against innovative products which have led to astonishing declines in smoking rates in countries such as Norway, Japan, Sweden, Korea, USA, France and the UK.
LIFE AND SEOUL
The start of May saw NNA Trustees Gerry Stimson and Louise Ross meet Professors Choi and Kim at the Royal Society of Medicine. They had come all the way from South Korea to learn more about the UK approach to tobacco harm reduction. Gerry spoke about successful UK government policy before Louise followed up with a session on her clinical experience of supporting people to switch from smoking to vaping.
Prof Choi had personal insights into this, having stopped smoking with heat not burn products, and very much related to the picture that Louise described. The professors were particularly interested in the benefits of switching when applied to people who have poor mental health and those who live with financial hardships. Spending around 10% on vaping compared with the money they would have spent on tobacco cigarettes made them really sit up and take notice, along with the superior quit rates once smokers tried vaping.
At the end of the interview, Prof Choi asked Louise if she would be prepared to travel to South Korea to speak to government representatives, to which she replied with a resounding yes. Could our intrepid former stop smoking manager be Seoulward bound soon? We’ll keep you posted.
RISE TO THE CHALLENGE
NNA Associate Terry Walker blogged this month about his efforts at changing misguided vaping bans and how he has managed to engage with his local NHS Trust on educating them about how to treat e-cigarette use in line with government advice.
He has had some success, and reports that:
“I wrote to the Chief Executive of the NHS Trust to offer my services in assisting them in reviewing their policy to bring it more in line with latest guidance and to align with the government’s Tobacco Control Plan. Encouragingly, he replied to thank me for my message and to say he would “welcome some discussion on this for a future update of the policy” and forwarded my message to those who have the relevant responsibility.”
Terry ended his piece with a challenge to other vapers faced with similar ill-thought out policies prohibiting vaping, by urging “if you see a vaping policy that is wrong-headed, it could well be worth politely enquiring as to why. If I can do it, so can you.”
You can read about his efforts here.
If you have questioned anti-vaping policies in your own locality and received a sympathetic ear like Terry has, do please let us know. Or, if you have any other story to tell about your experiences with vaping, we would always welcome guest bloggers. Just get in touch via our contact page
NNA Associate Terry Walker with Hon Lik, inventor of the modern e-cigarette, at the Global Forum on Nicotine in 2017
The UKVIA held its second annual Forum this month which was addressed by TV’s Dr Christian Jessen and was also attended by two MPs – Labour’s Sir Kevin Barron and Conservative Mark Pawsey – along with speakers from a range of vape industry interests and policy area commentators.
NNA Chair Martin Cullip represented consumers on a panel entitled “Has the UK become vape unfriendly?” which was chaired by Pawsey and featured Andrew Green of the British Beer and Pubs Association. We reported on our blog that “there was a definite willingness from the BBPA to better inform their members about the benefits of welcoming vapers – even if only for the boost to their profits which could result – and we hope to continue a dialogue with them so that more pubs might welcome vapers in the future”.
You can read our report of the event here.
During the panel, Martin also raised the issue of the web page on vaping in the workplace at government-funded ACAS’s website. He pointed out that it was not fit for purpose, cited long outdated research and was sending entirely the wrong message to the many employers who rely on it for sensible advice. It is disappointing, for example, that an organisation which is trusted for rigorous guidance on employment matters is still describing vaping as “smoking e-cigarettes” and is not joined-up with current government guidance.
Mark Pawsey made a note about Martin’s concerns and we have since heard that the MP will be writing to the Chief Executive of ACAS to ask that the page be revisited. We will be sure to let you know if long overdue corrections are made.
.Martin Cullip speaking at the UKVIA Forum
THEY NEED YOU!
Just a reminder that a new searchable resource has been created which aims to catalogue vape shops all over the country. As reported last month, the UK Vape Store Locator is “designed by a vaper who got a bit bored between Christmas and New Year 2018 and decided to see what he could do with Google maps” and intends to build a map of all shops in the UK. You can follow the project on social media here and suggest shops for the publicly available database here.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
The Global Forum on Nicotine in is almost upon us and many NNA Trustees, Associates and Supporters will be in Warsaw for the event in the second week of June. The NNA poster is almost finalised and final plans are in place for a Consumer Advocacy Alignment meeting - organised by Jessica Harding and chaired by Martin Cullip - featuring academics and consumers from all over the world. The NNA is the designated charity partner for this year’s conference so if you have a raffle prize to contribute, please get in touch.
Martin will also be presenting a speech on the subject of “Challenges in communication around vaping products and the consumer outlook” at the unfortunately named ‘ENDS’ Conference taking place in London this coming week.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
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