The nights are drawing in but the NNA has been active in trying to share enlightenment in October, despite fevered negativity from many quarters and a collective media eager to promote scurrilous headlines.
This month saw developments, good and bad, which could decide the future of harm reduction, not just here in the UK, and NNA Trustees were making themselves heard.
Last month we attended the Labour Party Conference in Brighton (see last newsletter) and this month we were represented 600 miles further north at the Scottish National Party Conference in Aberdeen. NNA Associate Andy Morrison tackled the question “Where next for vaping in Scotland” on a panel alongside two Members of the Scottish Parliament and a board member of the independent Vaporized vape shop chain.
Andy Morrison at the Scottish National Party conference
Drawing on our concerns about the Scottish Tobacco Control Plan published on our blog in July last year where we observed that “mildly promising changes are undermined by a prevailing caution towards e-cigarettes which borders on paranoia”, Andy highlighted the advances that have been made north of the border while strongly condemning the SNP’s proposed ban on all advertising of vape products.
He agreed that restrictions on marketing to children and IP theft are valid areas of concern, but that there is already adequate monitoring and prevention through UK-wide regulations, and that Scotland should be looking to promote the at least 95% less harmful message via responsible advertising in order to allay doubt in the products.
MSPs on the panel arrived armed with the well-publicised myths and scare stories about vaping but Andy did his best to debunk them and they left with a better understanding of the importance of publicising safer nicotine products. The SNP delegates stressed that there will be a consultation on the proposals in due course and we will be ready to respond to that when it materialises. We hope that many of you will also do the same, so watch our social media for alerts.
LOU LA LA!
NNA Vice Chair Louise Ross took the Eurostar to Paris mid-October to share the perspective of vape-friendly Stop Smoking Services and the people who use them. At the third Sovape Sommet de la Vape conference, these insights added an extra consumer-focussed element to the science and research presented by many eminent speakers, including Prof David Levy, Dr Lion Shahab and Dr Leonie Brose.
The event was covered by renowned socialite magazine Paris Match and Louise was quoted in the piece (use translate, we did).
At the breaks, Louise reports that French medics were keen to find out how the UK has encouraged vaping as a means to help smokers who choose to quit and asked for resources such as those from the Challenge Group on the use of e-cigarettes among pregnant women. One doctor reportedly told Louise “Ah, that is what we do, I just needed to check we were right to say that”. Despite the prevailing dogma and suspicion on vaping products, it is good to know many are seeing through the smokescreen.
You can read more about the Sovape event in Paris, and their research on public attitudes towards e-cigarettes in France, at this link from European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA) of which we are a founding partner.
REBORN IN THE USA
October also saw some much-needed common sense from the USA on the harm reduction front. The Federal Drugs Administration (FDA) issued a judgement that eight snus smokeless tobacco products can be marketed with the – quite obvious - claim that they are less harmful than smoking. While the messages to be included on the products are not perfect, it is encouraging that recognition of reduced risk products has been accepted in this instance by the FDA.
Of course, snus is still banned in the EU which prompted NNA Trustee and snus expert – Mark Oates – to comment on the regulatory disparity between the two Unions. “This decision is a welcome game-changer as it acknowledges, quite rightly, that safer nicotine products can offer great potential for smokers who wish to switch from smoking to a safer alternative”, he said, “there is simply no valid reason for snus to be prohibited in the EU, it is a shameful dereliction of duty which should be overturned at the first opportunity.”
You can read why we believe the EU should follow the lead of the US in our news section here.
NNA Trustee Sarah Jakes took part in a round-table discussion by Turkish broadcaster TRT World – imaginatively entitled Roundtable – this month. The half hour show tackled many of the recent misleading stories about vaping, with Sarah emphasising the benefits that consumers can derive from safer nicotine products. You can watch the whole show at this link.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Lastly, we reported last month on the formation of our new sister organisation, NNA Ireland. We are pleased to see that they have been quick to join the fray by condemning proposals to ban flavoured e-liquids by Irish political party Fine Gael – and specifically, prospective TD James Reilly - reported by The Journal news website.
"It's disappointing to see vaping being used as an election gambit, especially from a doctor who should know better. Tobacco harm reduction is a growing movement which is driving fast reduction of smoking rates in countries which implement sensible regulation”, NNA Ireland co-founder Tom Gleeson is quoted as saying. We couldn’t agree more.
It is great to see a new voice for consumers in Ireland up and running, you can read their inaugural article here and follow their activities on Twitter here.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
Once again, the NNA will be represented at The E-Cigarette Summit on 14th November with Louise Ross a panellist and Jessica Harding in attendance to report on proceedings. Louise will be advocating for “people who have switched from smoking to vaping to tell their healthcare worker too, to change resistant mindsets and undo the harm that professional prejudice can cause.”. There is far too much resistance to harm reduction amongst public health and many myths to dispel, so we hope that her message is well-received and understood on the day.
More news on future developments will be shared, as usual, the moment we receive them.
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.
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