Vapers Digest 4th December
Monday’s News at a glance:
Stick that in your pipe and smoke it – Hypocrisy of FDA Commissioner Califf – Free vapes on NHS – Clearing the air on e-cigarettes – Elf Bar Ends UK Sales of Candy and Soft Drink Flavors – Join the Fight for a Better Vaping Regulation in Ireland! – WHO Incompetence Exposed – Dental Experts Consider Pouches – Government Receives Big Response – Parliament and Politics – Awards Mark Best Practice – A Valuable Vaping Guide – Advocates Dismayed – Zonnic could save a million lives – Teen vaping – Brussels’ Latest Anti-Tobacco Propaganda – UK conferences have differing takes – Mark Butler is coming for Aussie vapers – Western Australian man, could be jailed – WVA calls on Spanish government – Blame Biden Health Officials – Impact of Missing Science – American Public Grossly Misinformed – When the Politics of Science Costs Lives – A Widening Gap – Anxiety as a predictor of the age of initiation – Countries that ignore WHO advice – Global Tobacco Control Conference in Disarray –
No one really knows why Rishi Sunak decided to make tobacco prohibition a cornerstone of his prime ministerial agenda. It polls quite well, although the Conservative Party’s overall poll ratings have got worse since he announced it and the New Zealand government has since decided to repeal a similar policy. Sunak himself is now the least popular member of his own government in the eyes of Conservative members.
There is talk in Westminster that Sunak was personally persuaded by Chris Whitty (the Chief Medical Officer) who has been banging this drum for a while. Whitty then turned up at the Covid inquiry and laid into Sunak, nicknaming his Eat Out to Help Out scheme ‘Eat Out to Help the Virus’. I scratch your back, you knife mine.
Stance on Vaping – Martin Cullip
Earlier this year, Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), emerged as a vocal advocate against misinformation in the public health domain.
A commitment to combating the real problem of health rumors and falsehoods is commendable. But Califf’s recent statements regarding tobacco harm reduction reveal a concerning level of misinformation of his own—and the distinct whiff of hypocrisy.
In January, the FDA announced an initiative designed to address public health misinformation. Explaining the rationale, Califf stated, “I actually believe that misinformation is the leading cause of death right now in the US.”
To 60,000 smokers in Bristol region
Almost half of all smokers in the Bristol region will be offered free vape starter kits on the NHS as part of a “world-first” drive to help nicotine addicts kick the habit. The local health authority has successfully bid for £2.2million from the Government to pay for 60,000 devices.
The aim is to help smokers switch from cigarettes to vapes which are considered much safer, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (BNSSG) Integrated Care Partnership (ICP) board heard. There are an estimated 144,320 tobacco users across the area, with 60 per cent of these in the city.
Lincolnshire County Council
In our latest County Views survey, we’re asking our residents about e-cigarettes to gather local information about their usage, and understand how much residents know about them.
You can register and complete the County Views survey now at www.letstalk.lincolnshire.gov.uk/vapes.
E-cigarettes – or vapes – have exploded in popularity over the last 18 months, particularly disposable ones. Understandably, residents have concerns about the potential health impacts of these devices, and their widespread use.
To help clear the air on vaping, the Lincolnshire Tobacco Control Board has pulled together its advice on e-cigarettes.
In der Welt verkünden die Ewiggestrigen immer den gleichen, längst wissenschaftl. überholten Unfug zur E-Dampfe, mit gefährlichen polit. Auswirkungen.https://t.co/03oaCLY427
— DampfFreiheit 🇩🇪💨 (@DampfFreiheit) November 28, 2023
And Soft Drink Flavors – Jim McDonald
In a concession to critics of vaping, the Chinese manufacturer of Elf Bar has announced it will end British sales of disposable vapes in flavors based on popular soft drinks, candy and desserts. It isn’t known if manufacturer IMiracle plans changes to Elf Bar flavors in other countries.
The self-imposed United Kingdom ban will apply to both the Elf Bar and Lost Mary brands. The two brands together account for more than half of all disposable vapes sold in the UK, according to NielsenIQ. Elf Bar has already ended UK sales of Bubble Gum and Cotton Candy flavors, and renamed Gummy Bear “Gami,” according to the BBC.
Join the Fight for a Better Vaping Regulation in Ireland!
World Vapers’ Alliance
The Department of Health in Ireland recently launched a consultation to collect the public’s views about further regulation of tobacco and vaping.
In the summary paper on the consultation, vaping is acknowledged to be less harmful than smoking; however, potential further regulations are introduced. The main reason is to prevent young people both – from smoking and vaping. Numerous research has shown that vaping is not a gateway to smoking.
Yet, the Department of Health proposes stricter measures on vaping, including flavour bans, higher taxation on liquids, a ban on disposable vapes, etc. All those initiated restrictions would target adults who smoke and have an opportunity to quit through vaping as a significantly less harmful alternative.
Five from Dave Cross, Planet of the Vapes:
The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) has issued a strong critique of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) for its failure to not only embrace science, listen to experts, and include the voices of one billion nicotine users worldwide in its policy-making process but also for the systemic failures that led to the postponement of COP10 (Conference of Parties) that was due to take place in Panama.
Whilst the “official” reason for the postponement of the conference was said to be security issues on the ground in Panama, it has come to light that the unfulfilled COP10 organisation contract for which US$5 million was allocated by the Panamanian Ministry of Health (MinSa) was terminated by the government at the end of October, finding itself without any service provider to ensure the event took place.
Three dental experts have looked at tobacco-free nicotine pouches. Joshua Jackson, Anthony Weke and Richard Holliday produced the paper ‘Nicotine pouches: a review for the dental team’ and it has been published in British Dental Journal. They wanted to see what benefits pouches offer quitting smokers or travelling vapers and the level of risk they pose to the oral cavity.
Credited with helping Sweden achieve its incredible drop in smoking, tobacco-free nicotine pouches are inserted into the mouth, held between the lip and gum.
The government says it has received over 12,000 responses so far on its proposals to tackle youth vaping, according to Steve Barclay MP and Rishi Sunak MP. The government is giving consideration to possibly banning all single-use/disposable vapes and getting rid of popular juice flavours, leaving menthol and tobacco only.
Over 12,000 responses have been received as part of the government’s consultation on plans to create a smokefree generation and crack down on youth vaping. The Prime Minister recently spoke about “the government’s concerns about the worrying rise in vaping among children.”
Neil O’Brien, the minister for vaping, has resigned as a health minster. The Prime Minister has made new appointments in the Department of Health and Social Care, but eyebrows were immediately raised when undeclared conflicts of interest came to light. Despite this, Andrea Leadsom fielded her first questions on vaping and tobacco harm reduction.
Neil O’Brien has resigned his position as a junior health minister, telling the Prime Minister that he wanted ‘to spend more time with his family’ – the latest in a long line of politicians who use the phrase as a face-saving exercise when being sacked.
Responsibility, best practice and innovation were firmly front-and-centre at the UK Vaping Industry Association’s vape industry awards. Leaders in product compliance, innovation, sustainability and the prevention of youth access to vaping were among those honoured at this year’s UKVIA Industry Recognition Awards.
The annual event was hosted at the QEII Centre in London and saw parliamentarians, public health professionals, enforcement officials, vape manufacturers and more all celebrated for their contributions to the progress of the industry and to the ambition for a future without smoking.
Two from Kiran Sidhu:
For Health and Social Service Providers
On November 16, the United Kingdom’s National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT), released: “Vaping: a guide for health and social care professionals.” It combines a summary of best available evidence with recommendations for how practitioners should act on this knowledge.
It’s the latest iteration of guidance that NCSCT first published in 2014, under the title “Electronic cigarettes: a briefing for stop smoking services.”
“Horrible” Nicotine Clampdown
Denmark’s government is introducing a package of 30 measures aimed at reducing young people’s consumption of nicotine and alcohol. The plans include raising taxes on nicotine products and banning flavors.
Advocates are dismayed by the moves, which come despite other Scandinavian countries boasting some of the world’s biggest tobacco harm reduction success stories.
Global Tobacco Control Conference in Disarray | RegWatch
Many critics often accuse the World Health Organization of maintaining an ‘obsessive and paranoid secrecy’ regarding COP, its Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
However, with the recent postponement of COP10, perhaps it’s time to consider adding incompetence to the list of criticisms.
Two from Dr John’s Blog:
Health organizations want it banned. Why?
Imagine, for a moment, that you are a 50-year-old who has smoked a pack of cigarettes a day since you were a teenager. You tried to quit a few times, but after a few days, you craved a smoke, like a starving person hungers for food. Within a couple of weeks, you were back to a pack a day.
One morning, when you wander into your local convenience store for a pack of cigarettes, you notice something new on the sales counter. A circular container that says it is a nicotine replacement. You remember from a stop smoking course that nicotine is the substance that makes cigarettes addictive and that without nicotine, smokers develop withdrawal symptoms.
Is it possible to create a regulatory environment and a culture that encourages adults who smoke to switch to vape without non-smoking teens taking up vaping as a hobby? The United Kingdom was a world leader in using vaping as a safer alternative for adults who smoke and had low teen vaping rates until 2022 and 2023 when teen vaping rates doubled. One reason may be the widespread availability of attractive-looking disposable vapes at “pocket-money” prices.
Does youth vaping matter matter? If so, what can be done about it?
A. Lucian discusses the way forward for Brazil’s vaping activists
Brazilian tobacco harm reduction (THR) activists face an uphill battle against the combined efforts of vaping bans, well funded anti-THR messaging and nicotine misinformation. In today’s episode, we’re joined by Alexandro Lucian (President of Direta, a consumer NGO) to find out if there’s a way forward for THR in Brazil.
Juan D. Estevez
Many would argue that paternalistic policies—in which the government makes decisions on behalf of individuals with the intention of promoting what is perceived as their best interests—are a necessary part of good governance and that the benefits outweigh any drawbacks. However, as the Nanny State Index has found, there is “little evidence that countries with more paternalistic policies enjoy greater health or longevity.” Instead, coercive nanny state policies create unseen problems.
In the context of public health, paternalistic policies might include regulations or restrictions aimed at reducing behaviours that are considered harmful.
On the biggest challenges the industry faces
What’s the biggest challenge facing the British e-cigarette and novel nicotine sectors?
It depends who you ask – or at least, that’s a lesson I’m taking from two conferences I attended in London over recent weeks. In both of them, the question of youth vaping inevitably loomed large, but in such different ways.
At the (always excellent) E-Cigarette Summit, geared towards health and policy issues, the focus was on issues such as perceptions of harm from vaping (worryingly high in the UK now as well as the US), the potentially negative inadvertent impacts of anti-youth-vaping measures on tobacco harm reduction among adults, and so on.
THE HEALTH MINISTER has announced today the timeline for his long-awaited crackdown on vaping. The importation of disposable single-use vapes will be banned from 1 January 2024 and the personal importation of any vapes or e-liquids (including all refillable devices and nicotine-free e-liquids) from overseas will be banned from 1 March 2024.
A Bill will be presented to the federal parliament in February 2024 to approve those changes which require legislation. The Bill requires approval of both houses of parliament and may not be passed. The Liberals and federal Greens have yet to declare their position.
And fined after cops found a vape in his car
A man has been charged with possessing liquid nicotine despite Health Minister Mark Butler claiming smokers will not be personally targeted in the vape crackdown.
Trinite Williams, 49, faced the Magistrate’s Court of Western Australia on Friday and pleaded not guilty to possessing liquid nicotine, which is a controlled substance, after police found it during a search of his car on October 8.
Police charged him with possessing a scheduled four Poison under the state’s Medicines and Poisons Act 2014. He is facing a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to two years jail if found guilty.
To change its approach towards vaping
The World Vapers’ Alliance has sent an open letter to the Spanish Ministry of Health and its new head, Mónica García, calling for an anti-smoking approach based on harm reduction and the abandonment of the measures proposed in the last legislature aimed at restricting the use of e-cigarettes.
The draft of the Comprehensive Plan for the Prevention and Control of Smoking 2021-2025 and the Draft Bill on the Tobacco and Other Related Products Market presented during the last legislature included among its measures a ban on flavours and higher taxes on electronic cigarettes, as well as a ban on their use in smoke-free areas and their sale online and in specialised establishments.
For Vapers’ Turn to Smoking
The 2005 dark comedy Thank You for Smoking tracks the efforts of three lobbyists known as the MOD Squad (Merchants of Death) who shill for the tobacco, alcohol, and gun industries. The lead character, an endearing but cynical tobacco lobbyist named Nick Naylor, tries to convince movie producers to feature cigarette-puffing stars to help his paymasters sell cigarettes. It’s an entertaining story — and one that reinforces common images of amoral people pushing dangerous but profitable products
On FDA-CTP Decisions
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products (FDA-CTP) was founded in 2009 in order to regulate the manufacturing, distribution and marketing of tobacco products as designated by the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. Between the years of 2009 and 2023, the government estimates that the FDA-CTP collected and spent $8 billion of user fees directly from the manufacturers and importers of tobacco and nicotine products. However, the impact of this fee collection and spending is unclear:
About Benefits of E-Cigarette Use to Smokers & Low Risk of Vaping
The Vapor Technology Association (VTA) today released new polling from pollster Kellyanne Conway, which reveals a significant information gap in public perception versus reality regarding e-cigarettes being an effective tool for adults in
need of smoking cessation and harm reduction alternatives.
The poll is a national online survey of 1,000 registered U.S. voters, including 35% Republicans; 35% Democrats; 16% independents; and 14% unaffiliated. VTA’s polling sought to better understand the current state of Americans’ knowledge, perceptions, and opinions on e-cigarette use, including perceptions of where vaping lies among other risky behaviors, like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and smoking marijuana.
In the U.S. today, the benefits of e-cigarettes to those who smoke cigarettes have been dismissed and marginalized by public health officials.
Most Americans have a highly negative view of vaping – until they learn more. Simple facts about the harm-reduction and smoking-cessation benefits of vaping products – particularly flavored vapes, which are two to three times more effective at helping adults quit smoking – shifts sentiment significantly.
Cheryl K. Olson
“I firmly believe a lot of us, people like me, are self-medicating, pure and simple,” says Skip Murray. A Minnesota-based tobacco harm reduction specialist, Murray began smoking at age 10. She was diagnosed initially with autism and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and later with depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as well. She vapes to manage her symptoms.
Brian King, director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Tobacco Products, has called for greater focus on health equity. One group he cited as disproportionately affected by smoking is people living with mental health conditions.
Of initiation of tobacco and cannabis use in adolescents and young adults
Background: Previous research has shown important links between anxiety and the use of tobacco and cannabis. However, it remains unclear whether anxiety leads youth to start using tobacco and cannabis at an earlier age.
Methods: Data were drawn from Texas Adolescent Tobacco and Marketing Surveillance System for the years 2019–2021(Waves 9–14). Participants were in 10th-grade, 12th-grade, and two years post-high school at baseline. The outcomes were the age of first use of cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and cannabis. Interval-censoring Cox proportional hazards models were fit to examine the differences in the estimated age of initiation of tobacco and cannabis use by anxiety.
Show decline in smoking prevalence
Countries that ignored the World Health Organization’s (WHO) advice to enforce prohibitionist policies have experienced the most dramatic decline in smoking prevalence when they adopted a tobacco harm reduction approach instead, international public health policy experts said.
Prof. David Sweanor, chair of the advisory board of the Center for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, said smoking rates in countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Japan saw the biggest decline after these countries allowed the use of vapes, heated tobacco products, snus, and other smoke-free alternatives that are considered less harmful than conventional tobacco.
A look back at how things have moved on or otherwise…
Clive Bates, Tobacco Reporter
In a fact sheet titled “Flavored E-cigarettes Hook Kids,” the U.S.-based Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids asserts that “Flavored e-cigarettes are undermining the nation’s overall efforts to reduce youth tobacco use and putting a new generation of kids at risk of nicotine addiction and the serious health harms that result from tobacco use.” Let us call this “the activist proposition.”
The challenge with simple but false activist propositions is that refuting them can require a lengthy embrace of more complex arguments. Brandolini’s law, also known as the bullshit asymmetry principle, can be expressed: “The amount of energy needed to refute bullshit is an order of magnitude larger than to produce it.”
European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates
ETHRA’s monthly roundup of news: Tobacco Excise Directive leaks – Snus survives EU interference – The Right Side of History – Irish age restriction, finally – Calling all consumers, upcoming public consultation – Cochrane evidence update – Country updates. Read on for more.