Faculty of Public Health and their ‘apology’.

A while back we wrote to the Faculty of Public Health regarding the behaviour of their President John Ashton and his abuse towards vapers on twitter.

This is the letter we sent: http://saveecigs.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/letter-to-professor-ashton/

Below is the reply we had back. Once you have read it, you will understand why we felt it necessary to respond.

Dear Save e-cigs,

Thank you for writing to FPH regarding your concerns about our President, Professor John Ashton. I have investigated the issues raised in your complaint and am writing to advise of the outcome.

FPH agrees that Professor John Ashton’s use of language on Twitter on Saturday September 6 was inappropriate and offensive. Both Professor Ashton and FPH apologise unreservedly for the comments he made.

In investigating your complaint, I have worked closely with FPH’s Board to ensure a thorough process has been followed. FPH’s Board has discussed the matter at great length, given the nature and seriousness of the situation.

The Board has registered its strong disapproval of Professor Ashton’s comments, whilst noting the mitigating circumstances. The Board also agrees that Professor Ashton should continue in his role as President and has given clear direction on the necessary steps to support his return.

You refer to Professor Ashton’s interview on the Jeremy Vine show on Friday 5 September. FPH’s position on e-cigarettes was not as clearly articulated as it might have been, nor was the possible link between nicotine and blindness fully explained. However, I believe that it would be wrong to try and stifle scientific debate or exclude passion from argument. If you would like to read our position, it is available at: http://bit.ly/1p2zEq7 We keep our position under review, considering latest developments and emerging evidence.

When it comes to engaging with the public, we usually do this through our members, as well as partnership work with stakeholders such as other charities and representative bodies.
I would like to personally reassure you that Professor Ashton’s tweets do not in any way represent what FPH thinks about people who use e-cigarettes. Regardless of whether someone represents themselves or an organisation, there can be no place in public health debate for the kind of language that occurred.

FPH keeps our position on e-cigarettes under review, considering the latest developments and emerging evidence. If you would like to read our policy position on e-cigarettes, it is available at: http://bit.ly/1p2zEq7

We are absolutely committed to working to achieve the very best standard of health and wellbeing for everyone.

Thank you again for writing to FPH and raising your concerns.

Yours sincerely

 

This to us is a very poor attempt at an apology, does not address the issues raised, and is basically a ‘whitewash.

This is our follow on letter.

Dear,

Thank you very much for taking the time to respond to our recent complaint. As you are aware, our complaint related to the behaviour of Professor Ashton, not just in his activities on Twitter, but also his conduct in two discussions on BBC radio.

We wish to put on record our profound disappointment with how this whole matter has been dealt with by the Faculty of Public Health and in particular the content of your letter to which we are now responding.

For the record, it is worth pointing out the exact nature of our complaint again.

On Friday the 5th of September, Professor Ashton took part in at least two BBC radio debates, one with Professor Robert West and one with the former head of ASH Clive Bates. He participated in these debates not simply as Professor Ashton, but in his official capacity as President of the Faculty of Public Health – a vitally important fact.

It is fair to say that these were rather ill mannered debates on his part. Whilst Professor West focussed on actual evidenced based facts, Professor Ashton preferred to highlight his concerns for which in many instances there was little or no evidence. In Professor Ashton’s debate with Mr Bates he even went as far as to say nicotine made people go blind and despite repeated requests from the interviewer he was unable to provide a single piece of evidence to back up this statement. Such ill-founded statements not only serve to raise concerns amongst established vapers, they also serve to put smokers off making the switch to a less harmful alternative.

Over the following weekend Professor Ashton then engaged with a number of vapers on Twitter. We were not engaged in these exchanges but we have seen the tweets in question.

In our complaint we acknowledged the fact that Professor Ashton may have been subjected to a number of antagonistic tweets, which we did not condone. As we wrote at the time, there can be no excuse for bad behaviour on Twitter. However, Professor Ashton did not just respond to tweets directed at him, he went out of his way to search through Twitter to find historic tweets that vapers had posted weeks or months earlier, he then used these tweets to insult them. Professor Ashton set out that evening to deliberately seek out and abuse some very vulnerable people.

Whilst we do not condone any abusive e-mails directed at Professor Ashton, he is the professional head of the Faculty of Public Health. He was the one appearing in the news and debating on national television and radio. He is the one who heads up a body that should make pronouncements based on evidence based research.

It is here that we reach the crux of our complaint, a point that you failed to address neither in your complaints procedure nor in the letter to which we are responding.

It is clear from Professor Ashton’s tweets and by his increasingly alarmist pronouncements on radio that he (and remember he never disassociated the Faculty of Public Health from his comments) is not a supporter of e-cigarettes and holds vapers in complete contempt. Please remember that virtually all vapers rely on e-cigarettes to prevent them going back to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

Professor Ashton has therefore laid bare for all to see a total bias against e-cigarettes and vapers; he has also by association inferred that the Faculty of Public Health shares that bias. Furthermore, Professor Ashton has made it abundantly clear that his position (and remember he was speaking not as a concerned individual, but as the President of the Faculty of Public Health) is not in any way based on an objective review of the available facts. How therefore can he continue in his role as president of such an august body?

It is likely that the issue of e-cigarettes will continue to be of significant interest to both the media and policy makers, it is therefore also likely that the Faculty of Public Health and/or Professor Ashton will continue to be invited to opine on the subject. Whilst Professor Ashton remains president of the Faculty of Public Health it will be impossible for the organisation to speak on the issue of e-cigarettes with any credibility. This is hugely disappointing. As a campaign representing e-cigarette users, their friends, and their families we have no interest in a purely one-sided debate in which only pro-e-cigarette people are allowed to speak. We want a wide-ranging debate with all arguments expressed and robustly debated. Professor Ashton’s actions have made this more difficult. It would therefore be better for all concerned if the Faculty of Public Health had told Professor Ashton to step aside. We are left wondering what Professor Ashton, or any other of your employees, would have to do to be sacked. Professor Ashton by his behaviour and the Faculty of Public Health in its feeble response to the said behaviour have brought the Faculty of Public Health as a whole into disrepute.

We strongly urge you to look again at this matter.

We will be publishing this letter on our website and copying it to the Secretary of State for Health.

 

E-cigarettes: Briefing for policy makers ahead of the WHO FCTC (COP6)

Save e-cigs has sent this to every MP, MEP, every Member of  the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland Assemblies and every Member of the House of Lords.

The sixth session of the Conference of the Parties to the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (COP6) is due to be held from the 13th to the 18th of October 2014 in Moscow.

The FCTC is an international treaty adopted by the WHO that entered into force in 2005 with the objective “to reduce the prevalence of tobacco use and exposure to tobacco smoke.”

The FCTC and its guidelines for implementation substantially influence how governments across the globe regulate tobacco. The COP is the governing body and decision-making organ of the WHO FCTC and meets every two years. All parties to the convention are invited to attend meetings of the COP to review and potentially recommend tobacco control policy measures across a broad range of areas, including e-cigarettes. The WHO report on e-cigarettes, published ahead of this conference made the following points in relation to e-cigarettes:

 

  • Recognition that there is a debate among scientific and public health experts around the world with respect to the role e-cigarettes play in reducing tobacco smoking.
  • Acknowledgement that it is likely that e-cigarettes offer a less harmful alternative to tobacco cigarettes.

 

The WHO report proposes the following regulatory options for e-cigarettes:

 

  • A ban on health claims unless substantiated by scientific evidence,
  • A ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places,
  • A requirement for health warnings commensurate with proven risks,
  • A ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s,
  • A ban on the marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes,
  • A ban on the use of flavours, and
  • Requirements for product design and information requirements.

 

Given the primary objective of the FCTC, the question must be asked, do e-cigarettes lead to more or fewer people smoking?

Fewer. There are 2.1 million people in the UK who regularly use e-cigarettes. All of these people are now smoking significantly fewer or no tobacco cigarettes as a direct result.   At the same time the proportion of adult smokers in the UK has fallen to its lowest level since records began in the 1940s.[1]

Robert West, Professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London made clear there is a direct link between the rise in the use of e-cigarettes and a decline in the number of smokers.[2]

Furthermore, as ASH have made clear, “The drop in smoking also shows that concerns that the use of e-cigarettes would lead to a renormalisation of tobacco use appear unfounded. The rapid increase in use of these products has coincided with a consistent steady decline in smoking.”[3]

Are e-cigarettes less harmful than tobacco cigarettes?

Yes and the WHO accept that they are. Professor Peter Hajek of Queen Mary University London and the NHS have both made clear that e-cigarettes are “orders of magnitudes safer than tobacco cigarettes.”[4] The NHS made clear that they were 1,000 times safer[5].

Is it therefore better for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes?

Yes. Professor John Briton from the Royal College of Physicians said: “If all the smokers in Britain stopped smoking cigarettes and started using e-cigarettes we would save five million deaths in people who are alive today. It’s a massive potential public health prize.”[6]

Will the proposed regulatory options set out by the WHO make it easier or more difficult for a smoker to switch to e-cigarettes?

The ban on flavours, the ban on advertising, and the ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public will make it more difficult for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. These proposals when taken as a whole will result in a reduction in the range of products and those products that are available will be less appealing to smokers.

Banning flavours – In research[7] carried out by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and others, vapers stated that the availability of flavours was “very important” in their effort to reduce or quit smoking. This research also found that the majority of vapers would find e-cigarettes “less enjoyable” or “boring” if flavours were restricted, while 48.5 per cent of vapers stated that it would increase their cravings for tobacco cigarettes and 39.7 per cent of vapers said that without flavours it would have been less likely for them to reduce or quit smoking.

Banning public vaping – The ban on smoking in enclosed public places was introduced to benefit the health of non-smokers whose health was put at risk as a result of being in close proximity to smokers. Therefore any proposal to include e-cigarettes within this ban must also be to protect the health of non-vapers.

Is passive vaping dangerous? No. A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Professor Riccardo Polosa concluded that the “effects of e-cigarette use on by standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.”[8]

Smoking rates also increased in New York by a staggering 2.1 per cent following the introduction of a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public.[9] A ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public would also force vapers to vape alongside smokers thus exposing them to temptation, the dangers of second-hand smoke and cause many to go back to smoking.

With a ban on the advertising of e-cigarettes soon to be introduced, following the passing of the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), where are smokers to find out about e-cigarettes, particularly if they are banned in public? Smokers need to see people using e-cigarettes in public, they need to be able to go up and speak to e-cigarette users so that they can find out further information and then hopefully make the switch to a less harmful alternative.

In the words of Professor Robert West: “What is the problem that requires further regulation?”[10]

In the UK the debate surrounding e-cigarettes is highly active and following the introduction of the TPD, e-cigarettes will be subjected to a stricter regulatory regime than some tobacco products. Research into the effects of e-cigarettes is being carried out on a continual basis and the findings are reported openly.

Given the WHO’s recognition that e-cigarettes are an “evolving frontier”, it would be premature for FCTC to adopt any regulatory recommendations until all the scientific evidence has been fully interrogated. We therefore propose that sensible measures such as the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s and the ban on e-cigarette companies making health claims without the necessary scientific facts to support them are supported as a matter of priority. The WHO should then resist recommending any further regulatory measures until a need can be proven.

Final question – e-cigarettes are a consumer product; they do not contain tobacco, so why are they even included within the scope of the FCTC?

[1] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/07/smoking-falls-lowest-level-uk-recording-started-1940s

[2] Professor Robert West speaking at the E-cigarette Summit, The Royal Society, London on the 12th of November 2013.

[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/oct/07/smoking-falls-lowest-level-uk-recording-started-1940s

[4] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-27161965

[5] http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9197731/vape-alarm/

[6] The Independent Newspaper, 29 March 2013

[7] http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/12/7272

[8] Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review:

Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa

published online 13 February 2014 Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety

[9] http://www.churnmag.com/news/smoking-rates-increase-new-york-e-cigs-banned/

[10] Professor Robert West speaking at the E-cigarette Summit, The Royal Society, London on the 12th of November 2013.

Blink and you’ll miss it…the Totally Wicked court hearing

Guest post by Sarah Jakes.

So, after my earlier blog about the TW challenge to article 20 of the TPD, I decided to go to the hearing. The case was heard in the Administrative Court in the Royal Courts of Justice in London which is a fabulous building to visit, even if you don’t have an interest in a particular case.

Arriving early, and certain in the knowledge that this place was not going to be vape friendly, I mooched in the gothic portico entrance for a while, vaping and generally watching out for a face I recognised. I was soon joined in there by Jeremy Mean (Dept of Health) plus entourage, who gave me a ‘I vaguely recognise you but can’t think who you are’ kind of look before wandering off. I was on the panel at the APPG meeting in June, at which Jeremy also spoke.

Once through security, and having negotiated the labyrinth of stone corridors and spiral staircases to court 18 (the building is a bit like Hogwarts) I found the TW and DoH teams waiting to go in. Just before 10.30 we all took our seats, the lawyers to the front and the public (which included Jeremy and co) to the back. And so the hearing started. To say it was brief would be an understatement. It had actually been listed for two hours I believe, but this is how it went. Please note that judges and lawyers don’t actually speak like this, this is just my translation:

TW brief: We’d like you to let us go to court in Europe to ask whether article 20 is legally valid because we don’t think it is for several reasons.

Judge: Ok, you can go.

TW brief: I’ve got lots of other waffle prepared if you’d like to argue about it some more, but it sounds as if you’d rather not?

Judge: No thanks.

There followed some more brief discussion about how best to ensure that emerging evidence could be included in the case, and how to get the European Court of Justice to hear the case quickly, but by 10.34 the hearing was over. Even the TW team seemed surprised at how easily it had gone their way.

As a result of this decision by the court Totally Wicked can now take their battle to Europe, where they will ask the European court to decide whether or not article 20 is invalid for one or more of the following reasons:

It places restrictions on e-cigarette manufacturers and vendors which are disproportionate to the legitimate aims of the TPD, and there is no public health justification for doing so.

It imposes a higher regulatory burden on e-cigarettes than tobacco cigarettes, which are competing products, despite the fact that e-cigarettes are the vastly safer product and so there is no public health justification for doing so (I’m starting to see a common theme emerging here!)

It distorts competition in the markets between the two products.

It imposes penalties for failing to comply with requirements which are almost impossible to achieve in the real world because of variations created by manner and requirements of use, and so without clear standards a manufacturer or supplier cannot be confident of compliance.

There is no need for Europe wide standardised regulation of e-cigarettes as consumer products.

It infringes on the rights of the e-cigarette industry to conduct their business and there is no public interest or public health justification for doing so.

So it’s next stop Luxembourg, probably in about a years time. Who knows how much more scientific evidence we may have accumulated to deal with those ‘public health justification’ arguments by then. A quick word of caution though, although the decision on Monday to refer TW’s challenge to the ECJ means that the national court believes it ‘has legs’, the battle on that front is far from won. We must all keep up the pressure on the WHO and national governments to ensure that sensible implementation is pursued regardless of the outcome of this case.

The Save E-cigs Petition handover, what happened and what’s next?

 

 

Save e-cigs Petition Handover

Guest post by Rhydian Mann, Welsh Vaper. (centre of the photo).

Welsh vapers have had a rough time of late, which is mainly down to Mark Drakeford, the current Minister for Health and Social Care. He wants Wales to be seen at the forefront of smoking rate reduction in the UK. In essence this is not such a bad thing. However, the way in which Mr Drakeford has gone about this is not just questionable but also completely ridiculous.

He announced his proposals to tackle smoking in the Public Health White Paper in April (or thereabouts), which included a complete ban on vaping in enclosed public spaces. In this case “public space” comes under any public space that the current smoking ban covers.

Pretty much anywhere which has 4 walls and a roof that you encounter when you leave your own home.

Mark Drakeford said the basis of this was due to fears of ‘re-normalisation’, i.e. the gateway effect where vaping supposedly leads to smoking and all that guff, and makes the of enforcement of the current smoking ban more difficult (as all e-cigs look like cigarettes surely!).

So a public consultation took place and many vapers like myself submitted a reply. However, once this consultation period was over, there has been no mention of it! So the team at Save E-cigs put forward the idea of raising a petition against the vaping ban proposals. With the aid of Simon Thurlow, the petition was launched after approval from the petitions committee, with the end date of Tues 30th September.

How did it do? FANTASTIC! The final amount of signatures on this petition was 1,196. So with this high number, in the general scheme of e-petitions in Wales, what happened next?

Well, on the 1st October 2014, I presented/handed over the Save E-cigs petition to the petitions committee in the Welsh Assembly building known as The Senedd. All the vapers that attended, myself included were under the impression that this handover was rather formal, however, via some communication breakdowns, it ended up more of a photo opportunity and a 15min or so informal chat.

During this chat, I started out by explaining our reasons for raising the petition and what we would like the result of the committee discussions to be. I persistently mentioned the favourite buzzword “evidence” to the committee members and my local Assembly Members (AM’s). The AMs and myself were even shown the results of a poll regarding the proposed ban on public e-cig use. The results stacked up very well in our favour.

E-cigarettes : Should the use of e-cigarettes in public places be banned?

  • Yes – ( 90 votes )
  • No – ( 2478 votes )

Total Answers 2568

Total Votes 2568

Along with other questions and answers there was a very good hint of what the next stage could be, and it could turn out to be very positive.

Unfortunately, an immediate drop of the proposals will not happen, as there are procedures to be followed. The petitions committee will discuss our petition on Tuesday 7th October, which can be watched on Senedd TV from 9am. Our petition will be the 2nd petition to be discussed.

What are the outcomes of this discussion? From what was discussed on Wednesday there are two possibilities.

1 – They ask Mark Drakeford for his views on the matter. Personally, I don’t believe his view will change at all, despite the consultation replies and our petition.

2- There will be an evidence session from vapers to the petitions committee. This is the next step which will be the most beneficial to Welsh vapers because it will be our chance to put the correct evidence over.

The Save e-cigs petition is hopefully one of the first steps in changing the view of the Welsh Assembly. The petition handover was a chance for communication between us and the Welsh Assembly, further communication will happen regardless, as communication can facilitate change.

Our foot is in the door; Welsh vapers will walk in and have their say.

 

Watch Rhydian in action here: http://youtu.be/04oHEZsHbFI?list=UUfFbE37IX0a-XAKE9yw-CPQ

 

 

Welsh Assembly Petition Handover Briefing

In April 2014 the Welsh Government’s Health Minister Mark Drakeford published a new Health White Paper. This paper included proposals to ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, substantially enclosed public places, and places of work in Wales.

The Health White Paper: http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/healthsocialcare/white-paper/?lang=en

According to ASH Wales there are 100,000 e-cigarette users (vapers) in Wales. All of these people are now smoking significantly fewer or no tobacco cigarettes as a direct result. As e-cigarette sales rise tobacco sales fall. Recently publish figures from the Welsh Health Survey show that smoking rates have fallen in Wales by two per cent.

In June 2014 Simon Thurlow, a representative of the Save E-cigs campaign in Wales, launched a Welsh Assembly petition opposing the Welsh Government’s proposed ban on the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places. This petition has been signed by e-cigarette users from across Wales.

The petition: https://www.assemblywales.org/en/gethome/e-petitions/Pages/petitiondetail.aspx?PetitionID=657

On Wednesday the 1st of October Save E-cigs will formally deliver this petition to the Welsh Assembly’s Petitions Committee at 13:00. The petition will be delivered by another Save E-cigs representative in Wales, Rhydian Mann. Rhydian will then address the members of the committee setting out why this proposal, if implemented, would not just be bad for vapers, be bad for public health in Wales, but also impractical to implement. These reasons include:

The fact that passive vaping is not dangerous. A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Professor Riccardo Polosa concluded that the “effects of e-cigarette use on by standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.”1 A review of the available literature conducted last year by researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia concluded that “exposures of bystanders pose no apparent concern.” Finally the US Food and Drug Administration conclude that all other substances measured for e-cigarettes were far below allowable levels for human inhalation. They state that levels are so low that it is more hazardous to an individual’s health to breathe the air in any major metropolitan city during rush hour. The fact that e-cigarettes do not undermine the smoking ban. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health stated that there is a 99.7 per cent compliance rate with the smoking ban2, and they have found no evidence to support the idea that the use of e-cigarettes in public is undermining this. o

The fact that the public use of e-cigarettes does not lead to a renormalisation of smoking. Professor Robert West, following his latest research concluded: “Despite claims that electronic cigarettes risk re-normalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this.

The fact that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking. Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: “There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”

The fact that when a similar ban was introduced in Spain there was a 70 per cent fall in the number of vapers. People that had made the switch to e-cigarettes are unfortunately now smoking again. Smoking rates also increased in New York by a staggering 2.1 per cent following the introduction of a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public.

The fact that this proposed ban fails to take into account e-cigarettes that have a medicinal license. Recently the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency granted a medicines license to the Voke e-cigarette manufactured by Nicoventures.

This e-cigarette looks exactly like many other e-cigarettes. Are Voke e-cigarettes to be included in this proposed ban? If the Welsh Government implement this ban and exempt Voke e-cigarettes how will they expect businesses and employers to know who is using a Voke and who is using another e-cigarette? If they do not exempt Voke e-cigarettes they would be preventing someone using in public a product that could have been prescribed by their doctor.

 

 

1 Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: a systematic review: Konstantinos E. Farsalinos and Riccardo Polosa published online 13 February 2014 Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety

2 Meeting of the All-Party Groups on Smoking and Health, Pharmacy, and Heart Disease 10 June 2014

3 http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/27/e-cigs-cleared-of-being-route-into-smoking-4710734/

4 http://metro.co.uk/2014/04/27/e-cigs-cleared-of-being-route-into-smoking-4710734/

5 http://www.thinkspain.com/news-spain/24345/e-cigarette-sales-in-spain-drop-by-70-per-cent

6 http://www.churnmag.com/news/smoking-rates-increase-new-york-e-cigs-banned/

7 http://www.pharmaceutical-journal.com/news-and-analysis/news/big-tobaccos-nicotine-inhaler-approved-by-uk-regulator/20066466.article

Letter to Professor Ashton

Dear Professor Ashton,

On Friday eight highly respected, credible, and independent public health and tobacco addiction experts, including Professor Ann McNeill, Professor Peter Hajek, and Professor Robert West, wrote in the journal Addiction expressing their concerns about the recently published WHO commissioned review of evidence on e-cigarettes. These experts did not state that e-cigarettes were 100 per cent safe; they simply stated that the WHO review contains important errors, misinterpretations and misrepresentations and that as a consequence the WHO could be putting policy-makers and the public in danger of foregoing the potential public health benefits of e-cigarettes.

Following the Addiction report you, in your capacity as President of the UK’s Faculty of Public Health, took part in at least two BBC radio debates, one with Professor Robert West and one with the former head of ASH Clive Bates. It is fair to say that these were rather ill mannered debates on your part. Whilst Professor West focussed on actual evidenced based facts, you preferred to highlight your concerns for which in many instances there was little or no evidence. In your debate with Mr Bates you even went as far as to say nicotine made people go blind and despite repeated requests from the interviewer you were unable to provide a single piece of evidence to back up this statement.

Over the weekend you then engaged with a number of e-cigarette users (vapers) on Twitter. We were not engaged in any of these exchanges but we have seen the tweets (see attached). Whilst you may have been subjected to a number of antagonistic tweets, which we would not condone, there can be no excuse for some of the language you used in your own tweets. Nor can there be any excuse for searching through Twitter to find tweets that vapers had posted weeks or months earlier and then to insult them. I include below a selection of your tweets.

“What do you call an unfettered, anonymous abusive apologist for the e-cig tobacco complex? A coward”

“I think I have identified a new species of human being this week. Obsessive compulsive abusive onanist with ecig tendencies”

“Have you always been an anonymous c..t or do you occasionally have a smudge on (sic) of personality and a human identity?”

“These abusive ecig people remind me of the lads who used to play with themselves behind the bike sheds at school”

“They (e-cig users/ supporters) are even more pathetic than that. Need ecigs to get aroused”

“Why are most of these ecig trolls anonymous? Are they just completely pathetic or pawns of Big Tobacco?”

You clearly realise how damaging these tweets are, not just to you, but also to the Faculty of Public Health, as you spent some time deleting the more abusive tweets from your twitter feed. As we have written, we do not condone any abusive tweets that you may have received, but you are the professional, the head of the Faculty of Public Health. You are the one appearing in the news and debating on national television and radio. You are the one who heads up a body that should make pronouncements based on evidence based research. It is clear from these tweets and by your increasingly alarmist pronouncements on the radio that you do not have much time for e-cigarettes and certainly no time for the vapers who rely on them to prevent them going back to smoking tobacco cigarettes.

In the radio debates and in your engagement on Twitter you have made clear that you are biased against e-cigarettes and vapers and that your position is not based on an objective review of all the available facts. How therefore can you speak openly on this issue again? Whilst you remain as its president it will also be impossible for the Faculty of Public Health to speak on this issue without anyone raising the question of bias. This is hugely disappointing. As a campaign representing e-cigarette users, their friends, and their families we have no interest in a purely one-sided debate in which only pro-e-cigarette people are allowed to speak. We want a wide-ranging debate with all arguments expressed and robustly debated. In your actions over the last few days you have made this more difficult. It would therefore be better for all concerned if you did the decent thing and stepped down from your position as President of the Faculty of Public Health as you have clearly brought both the position and the wider organisation into disrepute.

We will be publishing this letter on our website and copying it to the Secretary of State for Health.

Yours Sincerely,
Save E-cigs

Tweets from Prof Ashton

Why we feel we are left with no option but to place our contentions in front of the judiciary.

Guest post from Fraser Cropper, CEO of Totally Wicked.

Judiciary

 

Totally Wicked, as some readers may be aware, has filed a challenge against the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), and I want to take this opportunity on the Save e cigs blog to explain a little more about what we have done and why we feel we are left with no option but to place our contentions in front of the judiciary.

Firstly we haven’t taken the decision to challenge the TPD lightly, and we would not have undertaken this if we didn’t believe that a) we are doing the right thing, and b) that we have what we believe to be a solid case.

Our legal challenge is essentially questioning why the TPD mandates that e- cigarette laws should be stricter than tobacco laws. Article 20, the article that relates specifically to electronic cigarettes, to our mind represents a disproportionate impediment to the free movement of goods and the free provision of services. It places electronic cigarettes at an unjustified competitive disadvantage to tobacco products; it fails to comply with the general EU principle of equality, and breaches the fundamental rights of electronic cigarette manufacturers.

Therefore as a company are asking that the EU courts consider the TPD and pass its objective judgement on the regulatory framework that the TPD has delivered.

Article 20 will place unnecessary burdens on the industry, while at the same time completely ignoring the core needs of the user, those of diversity of product range, varying nicotine strengths and a vibrant community to encourage and support. All of these will be removed by the TPD.

We want all consumers to have enough information to make a judged decision and make sure that quality is of a standard that is acceptable. We want regulation that protects customers from ingredients and product deficiencies that could cause them harm, and this can easily be achieved through regulation that is proportionate, that gives the sector the justifiable opportunity it needs to have to give people a realistic option other than conventional cigarettes.

There is enough compelling evidence and research that proves e cigarettes are hundreds of time safer than conventional cigarettes, so our basic premise is this:why should our product be placed under greater regulatory constraint than a product that has killed many hundreds of thousands of people, and continues to do so? Where is the regulation that reflects the value these products are bringing? 2.5. million users in the UK have independently chosen to use e cigs, but nowhere in the TPD is the transformational potential recognised and engaged constructively.

It is a fallacy to suggest there is no ability for the government to affect the necessary controls, because there absolutely is enough control within the consumer regulations to suitably regulate electronic cigarettes, however the government have not chosen to utilise them. There are problems; there are imports that are not acceptable, yet the current regulatory environment could do away with them, if there was a will. Instead the TPD instructs disproportionate regulation that will significantly adversely affect a creative and paradigm changing nascent industry that deserves to be supported.

We want to grow as a business, we are an ethical company, we employ over 150 people directly and many hundreds more through our reselling base, but we have an illegitimate threat hanging over us. We are in the process of opening a new fluid production facility here in the UK that will provide jobs, and produce e liquid of the highest quality and standards, yet we have no idea how the TPD will impact this.

We are optimistic about the hearing in the Administrative courts on the 6th October, we expect to be heard in the CJEU next year, and we very much hope that the outcome will be a Tobacco Products Directive that reflects the reality of e cigarettes, the value they are providing, has them in a context that reflects the users needs and ultimately lets us get on with running our business – one of selling excellent quality products that have transformed many thousands of users’ lives.