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July 2019 may have been declared the warmest month on record globally, but we at the NNA will remember it as a month in which we gave a cool reception to several regulatory suggestions; some well-meaning, some not so. Here is a round-up of this month’s NNA activities.

MADNESS IN THEIR METHOD

The biggest – and most disappointing – story of July was the release of the seventh “report on the global tobacco epidemic” from the World Health Organisation. Despite tobacco harm reduction being a platform of the WHO FCTC’s founding articles, the report’s only mention of the term was to dismiss it as a concept fabricated by the tobacco industry.

The report perpetuated the myth that vaping has not been proven to help smokers quit, as well as talking up e-cigarettes as a gateway into smoking amongst youths. The report completely ignores credible third-party scientific evidence disproving their wild assertions and led to much negative media such as “WHO says e-cigarettes, 'smoke-free' products do not help reduce cancer” from Reuters.

We issued a press release criticising the report’s claims, suggesting that the WHO are taking an unhelpful ideological stance rather than one which could contribute to the outcomes they claim to want to achieve. We concluded that “If the WHO truly wants to drive down smoking rates, it must consider the growing body of evidence that vaping is an effective way to help people to quit. The WHO and the tobacco control lobby seem to have abandoned health altogether in favour of just attacking industry.”. You can read what we had to say about it in full here.

GREEN PAPER PALAVER

This month also saw the release of a government green paper containing recommendations towards vaping products. It was hastily rushed out as one of the last acts of the May administration and it showed, with some of the proposals resembling a regulatory bull in a china shop approach, suggesting that prohibition of smoking by 2030 can be achieved by demanding industry force smokers onto vaping instead.

While we were encouraged that government has placed great faith in reduced risk products in such a short space of time since they were contemplating banning them, we blogged that this is not the right approach to take.

“One reason that e-cigarettes have been successful since they went mainstream about seven years ago is that they are not seen as coercive. Smokers feel they are making their own choice rather than being forced into it. If politicians want to see increased uptake of safer nicotine substitutes for smoking, they should do so by optimising the choice of alternatives such as e-cigarettes, snus and heat not burn products, not by the blunt tool of coercion and prohibition”. We went on to say that “A policy like that suggested in the Green Paper would instantly remove the allure of safer products for many smokers.”.

You can read the full blog article here

"DEBATING" DAME SALLY

The latest issue of Vapouround magazine included not one, but two, articles featuring our Chair Martin Cullip. The first was entitled “The Vape Debate” and focussed on comments by Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies recently in which she suggested vaping should be banned in public places.

Dame Sally said that “my personal view is that we should treat e-cigarettes like we do tobacco products, so I would not have them smoked in public places. I hate it when I walk past someone and they waft vapour over me.”. Martin disagreed, of course, starting his rebuttal with “it’s nonsense, I think vaping should be allowed in many more places than it is now”. You can see the double page feature on page 54 here.

Vapouround

The magazine also carried a rundown of Martin’s presentation to the ENDS Conference in June where he urged industry “not to play into the hands of anti-vaping alarmists”. In another double page article, Vapouround writer Patrick Griffin quoted the observation that “we have politicians doing brilliantly for vaping but they’re fighting a losing battle against misinformation and ignorance. Changing this narrative is how we move on and normalise vaping, but we will not do this if we keep playing in the playground of our enemies.”. You can read the whole thing on page 64 of the latest issue here.

DIFFERENT STROKES

This month the NNA decided to leave the International Network of Nicotine Consumer Organisations (INNCO). We made a short announcement on our website to that effect. We feel that our two organisations have slightly different ideas about how to move forward but we share the end goal of pursuing better regulation for reduced risk products and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

BOARD BULLETIN

It is all change at the NNA with a reshuffling of our board of trustees.

Firstly, we regret to announce that Professor Gerry Stimson – our former Chair – has decided to step down from the board. Gerry is a highly regarded public health professor who has a pedigree in harm reduction initiatives in areas such as drugs and HIV prevention stretching back decades. He was instrumental in helping the NNA in its early years and beyond with advice and guidance for which we are eternally grateful. We wish him the very best for his future projects.

GS at the ECJGerry Stimson at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, for the challenge to the ban on the sale of snus

GS at the APPGGerry speaking at the APPG on vaping, February 2017

A conversation about e-cigarettesGerry Stimson:  A conversation about e-cigarettes, watch the video here

Kevin Molloy has also stepped down as Vice Chair but will stay on as a Trustee, his previous role will now be taken up by Louise Ross, who needs no introduction.

We have also appointed two new trustees in Dave Cross and Mark Oates. Dave is well known to many vapers as chief writer for the Planet of the Vapes website and is comprehensively knowledgeable about all vaping matters. Alongside him, we welcome Mark Oates, a parliamentary researcher in the office of Shrewsbury MP Daniel Kawczynski. Mark is a snus user and committed harm reduction advocate who has worked tirelessly towards better evidence-based policy at Westminster and the EU. We are delighted to welcome both on board as trustees.

You can see the new make-up of our Board here.

TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY

Our new Vice Chair Louise Ross is currently in Brazil to provide background on the pioneering work she engaged in towards vape-friendly stop smoking services in the UK. She has been invited by the University of Rio de Janeiro and will be involved in roundtable discussions with the Brazilian Ministry of Health. Louise is a proud grandmother doing a great job spreading the good news story from our country, so keep an eye on our social media and website for further news very soon on Rio Gran’s travels.

Political party conference season is nearly upon us and, once again, NNA representatives have been invited to share our views. Our Chair Martin Cullip is following up last year’s Conservative Party appearance with one at the Labour Party Conference in Brighton in September on the subject of “Does Brexit present new opportunities for the vaping industry?”. Meanwhile, in October, NNA Associate Andy Morrison is venturing up to the Scottish National Party Conference in Aberdeen to discuss “Where next for vaping in Scotland?”. Stay tuned to our website for reports on these events when they happen.

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.

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