NNA NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 2019
With a general election imminent, we are all awaiting what landscape harm reduction in the UK may face under a new administration. Options for engaging with policymakers have been sparse but the NNA has been engaging where we can, nonetheless. 2020 could present some major challenges for which we will have to be ready so please keep watching our website and social media for news very soon, we will be asking for your help.
For now, though, Christmas is almost upon us and the weather is getting chilly, so stay warm inside and read a round-up of what the NNA has been up to in November.
Firstly, a good news update from our June newsletter where we reported that – after being contacted by Mark Pawsey MP – Acas had pledged to change their advice on vaping in the workplace that we had highlighted as being “desperately out-of-date” and containing “dubious – and often inaccurate – advice for employers”.
Chief Executive of Acas, Susan Clews, accepted at the time that “there is indeed grounds for improving Acas guidance on vaping” and promised to amend the terminology used on the site as well as providing “more up to date links to commentators and advice on the issue of vaping”.
Their advice has since been updated and – while in no way perfect – is far better than it was prior to our input. Like all who are involved with human resources matters, Acas are very risk averse, but their guidance now cites sources such as Public Health England and the NHS and, crucially, makes a clear distinction between smoking and vaping which it had not done adequately before. We obviously welcome this and hope it leads to more sensible policies in both public and private sector workplaces in the future.
You can read Acas’s updated web page on e-cigarettes in the workplace here.
YES, YOU KHAN
At the start of the month we noted that London’s mayor – Sadiq Khan – had been asked about vaping advertising on the London Underground system in his weekly Mayor’s questions session. He replied that such adverts were currently banned but that there was to be a review.
The NNA wrote an open letter to Mr Khan, observing that “vaping advertising is already prevalent on London buses, so it would seem consistent to also allow the same messages to be presented to travellers on tube trains too” and highlighting that the review should take into account that the Tobacco Control Plan for England recognised the benefits of smokers switching to e-cigarettes.
We received an acknowledgement and a promise to reply within 21 working days, which is imminent. Sadly, this hasn’t materialised at time of writing, but we will report back next month. You can read our open letter to the mayor here.
SUMMIT TO SAY
Stepping in at short notice, our Vice Chair, Louise Ross, addressed the 7th E-cigarette Summit and gave a presentation entitled “I had given up giving up’ – how smokers have reacted to a new gateway out of smoking”.
She updated attendees as to the continuing success of vaping in her area, while also addressing the touchy subject of vaping in pregnancy; differing perceptions to reduced risk products in different classes; accidental quitters and the damaging effect of hostile opinions from both the media and health professionals themselves.
She finished on an upbeat note of what she would like to see in the future, all customarily sensible, of course.
You can watch Louise’s presentation to the Summit at this link.
SENSE IN SWEDEN
While Louise was in London preaching the good word to delegates at the Summit, NNA Trustee Mark Oates was in Sweden at a consumer and trade event attended by a number of Swedish politicians to give a talk entitled “Politicians wouldn’t ban motorcycle helmets, so why do they ban safer nicotine products, such as snus?”.
In a frank and entertaining presentation, Mark pointed out that tobacco harm reduction reduces risk vastly more than measures in other policy areas which are accepted worldwide. As a political researcher, he also explored why politicians are so resistant to innovative nicotine products, insisting that harm reduction should be a cross-party issue and that – with snus particularly – there is already a culture of snus use as a replacement to smoking in the UK which should be encouraged, not prohibited.
He also spoke about how the upcoming election could shape a more welcoming approach to snus and vaping, not just in the UK but elsewhere too, which is eminently relevant right now and therefore well worth a watch. You can see his presentation in full here.
Our Vice Chair Louise Ross also sprang into action after an appalling letter by a selection of misguided paediatric professionals was published in the Guardian declaring that “we cannot sit back and accept a blanket message from Public Health England that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco smoking”.
Louise wrote a response stating that the original letter was “an argument based on error and supposition” and that it would be more helpful to “consider the positive effect of parents who smoked switching to vaping”. You can read her response in full here.
Louise has also been meeting stop smoking service providers this month to encourage them to be more confident about including vaping in their offer to smokers who choose to stop. Recently, she has visited Derbyshire, Greater Manchester and the Medway area to reach those who would like to embrace vaping but have still to shake off the myth of the “scourge of nicotine addiction”. All this from someone who describes herself as retired!
LET'S GO EXPO
Lastly, the NNA’s Martin Cullip, Jessica Harding, Andy Morrison and Sue Wilson attended the Vaper Expo at the NEC in Birmingham at the turn of the month. It was when the threat of flavour vaping bans was at its height and Martin was invited to take part in a panel discussion alongside John Dunne of the UKVIA and Dan Marchant of VapeBase and VapeClub. The event was filmed and you can watch it here.
TOMORROW'S NEWS TODAY
The Ashtray blog’s annual predictions for the new year have become a seasonal regular at this time of year and our Chair, Martin Cullip, has already sent his submission for 2020 which, to the surprise of no-one, had to take into account the shameful misleading scare stories coming out of the US. Most predictions from last year’s offerings – including Martin’s – were derailed by the shocking behaviour of American politicians and other vested interests across the Atlantic. You can read what was predicted last year from 17 vaping voices at this link.
Apart from that, as things wind down into the Christmas season there is not a great deal coming up, suffice to say that we should all prepare for a momentous year in 2020 where there will be a great deal for consumers to get involved with, both here and abroad. We hope you enjoy the holiday period and get refreshed for more battles ahead. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our supporters.
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