Top read of the week is Fidela Cook writing in the Scottish Sunday Herald about how e-cigarettes pretty much saved her life by turning her away from a 40 a day cigarette habit. She rightly says that the demonisation of e-cigarettes could backfire dramatically by driving her back to cigarettes. But almost as an aside, she points the finger at Big Tobacco as participants in the campaign against e-cigarettes. It could be that she doesn't realise that the likes of BAT and Philip Morris are major players in the field of HNB technologies, but I doubt that.
Clearly cigarette sales will continue to be the industry's income mainstay for many years to come especially in regions like Africa and Indian sub-continent, the revenue from which is funding HNB R&D. And I know many vapers out there are no lovers of the tobacco industry, but I just wondered is there any actual evidence that this industry, as opposed to say Big Pharma, has any interest in undermining the future of alternative nicotine delivery systems? Or could it be at the very least, a very smart smoke and mirrors exercise - investing a relatively small amount of money in tobacco industry terms to divert attention away from the continuing business of selling a products that kills the customer? Or is this just another wacky conspiracy theory sitting alongside the moon landing never happened and the CIA planned 9/11?
From the UK's Daily Telegraph comes the news that the government have rejected demands from the Labour mayor of London and Labour Party run local councils that smoking should be banned in pub gardens and outdoor eating areas. Marcus Jones, a minister for local government, said: “ Labour’s municipal killjoys have been caught with a smoking gun, trying to ban adults enjoying their local pub garden. If implemented, these ill-founded proposals would lead to massive pub closures...The idea has previously been backed by leading medical experts. The Royal Society for Public Health has called for "exclusion zones" around pubs, in parks and at the entrances to schools. It said that reducing the "convenience" of smoking will prompt more people to give up. It suggested that they should be encouraged to switch to safer sources of nicotine such as e-cigarettes”
Sean Krieger, Vice-President of the Canadian Vaping Association gave a two-part interview to Regulator Watch in advance of giving evidence to the Canadian parliament concerning Bill S-5, which seeks to extend tobacco control legislation to vaping.
And while you are on YouTube, check out this Australian news item in which the TGA is made to look very weak in its continued refusal to lift the ban on e-cigarettes
New regulations come into force in the UK on 20th May which will restrict nicotine bottle size to 10ml instead of the current three size option up to 30ml. This could push up vaping costs as vapers will have to buy multiple 10ml bottles
The rest of the new rules are:
- Refillable tanks must have a capacity of no more than
- Unless registered as a medicine e-liquids can not have a nicotine strength of more than 20mg/ml
- E-liquid packaging must be child-resistant and tamper evident
- Additives including colouring, caffeine and taurine are banned
- All e-cigarettes and e-liquids must be registered with the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency before they can be sold
- Stricter labelling requirements
- Also on the 20th May, the UK introduces plain packaging regulations for cigarettes after the Supreme Court denied the industry the right to appeal last May's High Court decision.
British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International (JTI) and Philip Morris International claimed that the law would infringe their human and intellectual property rights.
Back in May 2016, The Guardian covered the original court room battle, the loss of which David Anderson QC, representing the industry, called the equivalent of 'Custer's last stand'. One of Anderson's arguments in court was that slave owners were compensated after the abolition of slavery, a foot in mouth moment really as the tobacco industry was founded on slave labour; thousands of Africans were shipped to the USA and south America to work on colonial plantations. Anderson went on to try and argue against the idea that the tobacco industry was uniquely dodgy. As Jamie Doward reported in The Guardian
“He told the court: “We have been trying at the bar to imagine whether we can think of any other group of legal or natural persons, terrorist suspects, arms dealers, Jews, in respect of whose evidence one might even begin to think that one could tenably say, ‘Well, of course, in looking at this evidence I have been very careful because I know from the past that these people are a bit devious and a bit unworthy, and the only thing they’re really interested in is subverting public health.’ ” Yet last week’s judgement, running to 1,000 paragraphs, confirmed in excoriating detail just how determined big tobacco has been down the decades to achieve precisely this goal”
As Clive Bates points out, the WHO FTC Global Progress Report 2016 makes very grim reading for tobacco harm reduction. “The report praises prohibitions of smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes as progress and saluting the ban on e-cigarette advertising in the EU”....”There is not even a mention of tobacco harm reduction, recognition of a debate in tobacco control, reference to rapidly falling smoking rates where vaping has taken off or even acknowledgement that the lowest smoking prevalence in the developed world, in Sweden, is down to a tobacco product made by a tobacco company!
“Worse still the report surreptitiously defines e-cigarettes as 'tobacco products' in a section headed New and emerging tobacco products which as the report says continue to spread and become essential elements of the tobacco-use landscape. This will have adverse consequences on tobacco control if policies do not progressively reflect their presence. Comprehensive and concerted actions are needed with the participation of all concerned stakeholders to address such products, including through the development of specific policies to curb their use.!
Here's a hefty piece of research from the USA National Bureau of Economic Research suggesting that preventing young people accessing e-cigarette through Minimum Age Sales Laws may be encouraging them to smoke cigarettes instead
And finally, I am in awe of Bill Godshall's Tobacco Harm Reduction update for two reasons; first, because there is an awful lot of activity going on worldwide around THR activism and second, Bill seems to know about it all!