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January

A very busy 2022 began with the publication of a review of heated tobacco by the Cochrane Library. It found that "heated tobacco products could benefit public health if they reduce risk and help people stop smoking normal cigarettes, without attracting people who would otherwise avoid tobacco entirely." You can read the review here and a commentary on their research by the review team in The Conversation.  

Our Chair, Louise Ross was quoted in an article on how local governments in England managed to improve their smoking cessation services in 2021. She commented that “It’s really good to see how stop smoking services can be flexible and responsive, especially during the difficult times of the last couple of years.”

It was reported in Norway that the country is on the verge of a smoke-free generation as smoking prevalence among 16 to 24 year olds plummeted from 12% to 1% in just 10 years thanks to snus.

On 31st January, it was announced that there would be a refocus on advantages to be gained from the UK leaving the European Union with the release of a report entitled The benefits of Brexit - how the UK is taking advantage of leaving the EU, along with a levelling up white paper. Tobacco harm reduction can play a significant role in advancing both these government agendas and we highlighted how the ten policy proposals we put to government in 2020 could help.

February

The NNA published a call for supporters to respond to the Scottish government’s consultation on  “Tightening rules on advertising and promoting vaping products”. As the title suggests, the proposals seek to place unnecessary obstacles in front of raising awareness about vaping products in Scotland. Vape video reviewer Vic Mullin also recorded a call to action on his YouTube channel.

The government-commissioned Independent Tobacco Review, led by Javed Khan OBE, was launched to much fanfare and media reports that it would usher in “a vaping revolution”.    

Louise Ross featured in Vapouround magazine explaining that there are still threats to vaping in the UK, and that "If you feel you have something more to offer and would like to get involved in advocacy, we would love to hear from you." Also in February, European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (ETHRA), of which the NNA is a founder partner, presented a memo to a European Commission meeting on "Emerging tobacco and nicotine products in tobacco control policies" which you can read here.

March

We wrote to Independent Tobacco Review lead, Mr Khan, with a comprehensive set of 20 proposals setting out why tobacco harm reduction should be adopted as a critical strategy for future tobacco policy and is the only realistic approach if the Smokefree 2030 goal is to be achieved, while encouraging supporters to do the same. You can read our full letter here.

The Welsh Government consulted on a new Tobacco Control Plan. We urged consumers to respond with their stories about how vaping works and why it should be central to future government strategy.

March 9 was No Smoking Day. we wrote on our blog that there should be a more concerted campaign to counter media misinformation and confusion about vaping, and that all safer nicotine products should be made widely available, including lifting the ban on snus. On the same day, the Local Government Association called for a reduction of VAT on vaping products from 20% to 5%, stating “There is increasing evidence that e-cigarettes, along with other dedicated support, act as an important gateway to help people to stop smoking."

Jacob Rees-Mogg,  writing in The Sun newspaper, asked for suggestions from the public as to petty regulations that should be abolished now that the United Kingdom has left the EU. We wrote to suggest eliminating pointless restrictions on vaping tank and refill container sizes, removing the 20mg/ml limit on the strength of nicotine e-liquid, and lifting the EU-imposed ban on snus. You can read our letter here.

April

This month saw the publication of the government’s post-implementation review of the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations 2016 (TRPR). We wrote on how we believe the regulations could be improved by relaxing pointless vaping controls which only serve to inconvenience vapers and deter smokers switching, but also by better acknowledging the positive contribution other harm reduction options can provide.

On April 13, our trustees, Louise Ross and Sarah Jakes, took part in an online meeting with Javed Khan to give evidence on behalf of the NNA to the government’s Independent Tobacco Review. Also in April, research from University College London found that "Prevalence of e-cigarette use among the youth population in England does not appear to be associated with substantial increases or decreases in the prevalence of smoking uptake", and former NNA trustee, Mark Oates, wrote in Capx that smokers are dangerously ill-informed about the risks of vaping compared to combustible tobacco.

May

We issued a call to action after the EU Commission called for evidence to assess its legislative framework for tobacco control. The document suggested bans on flavours, plus other restrictions on where products can be sold and used, and proposed treating vaping the same as smoking. Many supporters responded to the call, and you can read the NNA’s submission here.

NNA Trustees met with MPs Mark Pawsey and Adam Afriyie in the House of Commons where they had a constructive discussion on vaping and harm reduction matters (picture below), and research from Queen Mary University found that “e-cigarettes are as safe to use as nicotine patches for pregnant smokers trying to quit, and may be a more effective tool.”

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July

The EU Commission launched a call for evidence on a proposal to amend a 2009 recommendation on extending smoke-free environments to include vaping products and heated tobacco. We produced a guide on how to respond to the consultation for consumers and supporters. You can read our submission here.

In May, the NNA urged supporters to respond to the EU Commission consultation on its legislative framework for tobacco control in our web article here. In July, it was revealed that the consultation received a record number of responses, according to EU Political Report. Also, following March’s consultation to which we responded, the Welsh government stated that "clarifying the position on e-cigarettes in Wales is a priority" in its long term Tobacco Control Strategy.

August

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) released a briefing for local authorities on youth vaping. It offered a calm analysis of recent fears over youth vaping and debunked some of the many myths seen in the media. The briefing stressed the key point that “media reports that youth vaping risks becoming a potential ‘public health catastrophe’ leading to a ‘generation hooked on nicotine’ are not substantiated by the evidence.” Regarding myths carried in the media, ASH was forthright with unequivocal corrective statements. We reported on the briefing on our blog.

Meanwhile, an update in the Dentistry journal took on inaccurate media reports in the summer claiming that vaping was bad for dental health, stating that “Smokers can expect to see substantial improvements in their oral health if they fully switch to an e-cigarette.”

September

The latest annual report by Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) on “Use of e-cigarettes (vapes) among adults in Great Britain” was released and concluded that there are now around 4.3 million vapers in England, Scotland and Wales, a significant increase from 3.6 million in 2021. We welcomed the news in an article on the NNA website.  

The Dutch government opened a public consultation on the final stage of a proposal to ban vaping liquid flavours. The proposals would make it impossible for manufacturers to formulate any flavours at all and would effectively signal the end of the legal vaping market in the Netherlands. On our blog, we urged our supporters to make a submission.

October

At the end of September, the Office of Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID), released its final Vaping in England review, which was largely positive. It is the most comprehensive yet and covered a wide range of evidence on the use of vaping products amongst adults and youth, as well as brief commentary on heated tobacco and nicotine pouches. We welcomed the review and commented on its conclusions on our blog.

Thérèse Coffey was appointed Secretary of State for Health and it was reported that she planned to delay the Tobacco Control Plan for England. We wrote to Ms Coffey to re-emphasise our 20 recommendations for reducing smoking which rely on consumer choice, deregulation, competition and private sector innovation. You can read the letter here.

The Observer published a very negative editorial which repeated all the tired arguments put forward by ideological anti-vaping activists. It ignored the recent comprehensive review by OHID, instead choosing to amplify cherry-picked science, half-truths and hypothetical risks. It was widely criticised, and we wrote to the Observer’s Reader’s Editor section to strongly condemn the editorial. You can read what we had to say about it here. 16 public health experts also wrote a condemnatory letter which you can read here.

November

At the end of October the BBC reported that health campaigners had called on the government to close a “loophole” in how nicotine pouches are regulated to prevent under 18s from being able to buy them legally. We welcomed this news and noted that we had written to the government on three occasions suggesting light touch regulation. We commented that it is good to see some of our long-held suggestions on nicotine pouches regulation being taken up by health groups.

The Cochrane Library released its latest living review of vaping research, concluding that “There is high‐certainty evidence that e-cigarettes with nicotine increase quit rates compared to NRT.” (summary of findings below). The World Cup began with a warning to football fans that vaping products are banned in Qatar and subject to a fine of $2,700 or three months imprisonment.

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December

It was widely reported that new Office for National Statistics (ONS) data reveals that the smoking rate for over 18s in the UK in 2021 declined to a record low of 13.3%. The ONS described the drop in smoking numbers since the previous year’s rate of 14.0% as statistically significant and concluded that vaping had played “a major role” in the reduction. We wrote that this proves tobacco harm reduction works and we should do more of it. Also in December, King's College London produced an explainer article discussing its latest research which informed OHID’s September Vaping in England report, and The Centre for Evidence-based Medicine in Oxford published a blog entitled “7 things you need to know about e-cigarettes and quitting smoking.”

And finally, in the past year the NNA received nearly £150 just from donations generated by those who chose the New Nicotine Alliance as their selected charity while shopping on Amazon. If you haven’t done so already, please go here to nominate the NNA as your charity and Amazon will then donate towards our activities with every purchase you make. You can also make a donation directly to the NNA by clicking here. Thank you for your donations in the last 12 months by whatever means you have made them. We are very grateful for your support throughout 2022.

 

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