Major event in the House of Commons…..

Houses of Parliament

 

On the 2nd of September Save E-cigs is organising a major event in the House of Commons hosted by Rt. Hon Jack Straw MP (Labour), Mark Pawsey MP (Conservative), and John Pugh MP (Liberal Democrat). The meeting will be held in the Attlee Suite from 14:00 – 16:00.

At present there is a significant debate taking place as to how exactly e-cigarettes should be regulated. The Tobacco Products Directive, which the UK Government will be transposing over the next two years, sets some guidelines, but does not dictate actual regulation in many areas. Should they be included in the smoking ban as the Welsh Government has proposed? Should they be regulated as a medicinal product, a tobacco product, or something else? Our event will look at all these issues in detail. Speaking at this event will be:

· Professor Gerry Stimson, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
· Clive Bates, Former Head of Action on Smoking and Health
· Louise Ross, Leicester Stop Smoking Services
· Professor Robert West, Professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health
· Oliver Kershaw, Founder of the E-cigarette Forum
· Jill Rutter, Institute of Government

This meeting will not be just another event discussing e-cigarettes, it will genuinely move the debate forward; setting the scene, looking at what happens when policy makers get regulation wrong, and setting out how e-cigarettes could and should be regulated.

It is vital that all those with an interest in e-cigarettes engage on this important topic. If you would like to attend this event please RSVP to campaign@saveecigs.com.

We have invited every MP to attend this event; however, to ensure that they attend it often helps if their constituents encourage them to attend. We would therefore be very grateful if you could please get in touch with your local MP and encourage them to attend this important event.

The Global Forum on Nicotine… was it worth it?

Global Forum on Nicotine

 

This was my first e cigarette ‘event’ so I had no pre-conceived ideas as to how it would go, who would be there and what the outcome would be. The line up looked interesting and the programme pretty compelling and I was delighted to be there.

It turned out to be two days packed to the rafters with talks and discussions, many conversations were held during the breaks, (where we had fabulous snacks and food, thank you Marriot Hotel) and much was learnt. There wasn’t an awful lot about nicotine if I am honest, but then this was always going to be about e cigarettes; where we are globally, and where we hope to go.

Deborah Arnott from ASH attended, she was on a fact-finding mission for the FCT. She gave a presentation at the end of the conference.  Sadly she still supports med regs, yet accepts the twin track approach agreed by the TPD, but then that presentation was made before she attended. I guess we can cling to a vain hope that she may still change her mind and have a road to Damascus conversion, and realise that e cigs should be pretty much left alone to innovate and get folks away from the dreaded weed.

All the eminent scientists were there, and it was lovely to finally meet them, see them in person and hear what they had to say without reading long and rather dull scientific papers. Prof Hajek is just lovely!

The well- know vapers were there in force, Dave Dorn, Lorien Jollye, Sarah Jakes, Dick Puddlecoat and more, with plenty of wine and beer flowing in the evenings amongst clouds of vapour. (Did anyone know that DD is a trained Opera singer?)

 

But what did Save e-cigs come away with from the Forum?

That Public Health can absolutely see the benefits of e cigs, but can they ethically allow the prescription of them on the NHS, if the Tobacco Industry makes them?

That Vapers, without a shadow of a doubt made the difference at the TPD. Rebecca Taylor MEP made this abundantly clear. Because of vapers getting involved and telling their story, MEPs had to respond. And somehow we need to keep this involvement up.

The reason why snus is still banned? They didn’t lobby, and they didn’t/don’t have the people power behind them. The travesty that is the snus ban was continually referred to, and it is incredulous that it is still banned. It makes absolutely no logical sense.

Working together. This was the common theme and common thread, and was heartening to hear. We all have to put egos’, differences etc. behind us. The TPD could have been better if we had been united. A divided house falls, and we need to ensure that that doesn’t happen again.

 

So what’s next for e cigs? In the words of the world famous fish Dory – we have to ‘just keep swimming’, there’s nothing else for it – keep writing, keep campaigning, and keep on keeping on!

Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming

There are moves afoot for there to be a Global Forum on Nicotine the same time, same venue next year. Let’s hope that the e cigarette industry and community will be able to come together again then, but this time with plenty of progress to report in the regulatory area. Good progress too, in our favour.

So was the GFN worth it? absolutely.

But one final note: Warsaw is lovely, very cheap, but quality cheap, full of culture and if you ever get the chance – go!

 

 

Our Letter to Kelly Evans, writer and marketer at Social Change UK.

Social Change UK

Social Change UK

 

Dear Ms Evans,

 

We are writing in response to your recent opinion piece published on the Social Change UK website.[1]

Save E-cigs is a campaign that represents vapers, their friends, and their families.

In your piece you state that you are not against e-cigarettes, but this is not how your article comes across. In both tone and content it is hostile to e-cigarettes. More than that it is not a balanced article. You state at the beginning of your piece that ‘evidence is king’ yet you make a number of evidence free statements or deny, when it does not suit your line of attack, that evidence exists when it does.

In your piece you argue that there is not enough information available to disprove the argument that e-cigarettes are a gateway into smoking. There is actually a significant amount of very credible evidence that clearly demonstrates that virtually all e-cigarette users are either current or former smokers and that no evidence exists of e-cigarettes being a gateway product.

The latest research produced by Action of Smoking and Health (ASH) concluded that that just 0.1 per cent of e-cigarette users had never smoked tobacco cigarettes previously[2]. Commenting on ASH’s latest research, Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said: “There is no evidence from our research that e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway into smoking.”[3]In addition to this, the largest ever EU-wide study on this issue, carried about by the Harvard School of Public Health also concluded that there was no evidence that e-cigarettes were a gateway to smoking[4].

Looking specifically at children and the gateway effect, research undertaken by Queen Mary University in London[5] found that a child trying a tobacco cigarette for the first time is 50 per cent likely to become a regular smoker. The same research found no evidence that a child trying an e-cigarette for the first time goes on to become a regular vaper.

You suggest that e-cigarette use may actually encourage people to continue to smoke and may actually harm quit attempts. If ‘evidence is king’ where is your evidence?

Many vapers have tried numerous times to quit smoking using conventional nicotine replacement therapies, which have a 90 per cent failure rate, however with e-cigarettes they have all cut down their smoking or stopped completely. Professor Robert West, Professor of health psychology and director of tobacco studies at University College London’s department of epidemiology and public health said: “We found that those using the e-cigarette were about 60 per cent more likely still not to be smoking than those using the licensed product or nothing at all.”[6] E-cigarettes are however not some form of more effective nicotine replacement therapy, they are totally different and need to be regulated accordingly. Speaking in Parliament recently, Professor Robert West also made clear that in all his research he saw no evidence of dual use undermining quit attempts or prolonging smoking, if anything he saw evidence of a move amongst dual users to quit completely.[7] This was supported by the latest Smoking Toolkit Study, something you should be familiar with, which concludes, ‘evidence does not support the view that electronic cigarettes are undermining quitting or reduction in smoking prevalence.’

As the evidence shows, not only are e-cigarettes not a gateway to smoking, they do not re-normalise smoking either. Professor Robert West, following his latest research concluded:“Despite claims that electronic cigarettes risk re-normalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this.”[8]

When it comes to the advertising of e-cigarettes, you are concerned that some of these adverts make e-cigarettes look ‘desirable’; is that not a good thing? After all, e-cigarettes are recognised as being safer than tobacco cigarettes. 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.”[9] The NHS made clear that they were 1,000 times safer[10]. Is it therefore not better for smokers to switch to e-cigarettes? Again the answer must clearly be 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.”[11] Therefore, if these adverts are encouraging people to switch to a safer alternative then what is the problem?

Perhaps you are concerned about the impact of advertising on children? Well you need not worry. Research undertaken by John Moores University[12] concluded that, ‘Despite widespread advertising of e-cigarette brands in print, visual and social media, the majority of participants (children) reported that they had not seen any advertising for e-cigarettes and showed a lack of awareness of advertising and marketing strategies and approaches’.

Of course there must be regulation of advertising, which is why we welcomed the recent Committee of Advertising Practice consultation and look forward to reading their proposals. However, the issue of advertising will not be around for much longer as the revised Tobacco Products Directive bans the advertising of e-cigarettes from 2016.

In your piece you raise concerns about tobacco companies moving into this market. We are a vapers group and are not spokesmen for the industry; however, it strikes us as a good thing if tobacco companies are moving away from making and selling harmful tobacco products to making and selling e-cigarettes.

The key thrust of your piece is about e-cigarette usage amongst children. The latest research produced by ASH concluded that, ‘e-cigarettes are used by both smokers and ex-smokers, but there is little evidence of use by those who have never smoked or by children.’[13] ASH found that 98 per cent of 11 – 12 year olds had never tried an e-cigarette, the figure for 13 – 14 year olds was 96 per cent. The crucial thing is how many of these children, having tried an e-cigarette once go on to use them regularly. We know from figures produced by ASH that very few young people are using e-cigarettes on a regular basis.[14]

In your piece you made much of the issue of flavouring, implying that flavours are used to attract children. Evidence produced by a variety of organisations including ASH and the American Cancer Society (ACS) clearly shows that flavours do not entice non-smokers to use e-cigarettes either. Researchers from the ACS[15] found that flavours did not increase the attractiveness of e-cigarettes to teenagers. Rather, ‘Even after controlling for other statistically significant correlates, the odds of a smoker being willing to try an e-cigarette were 10 times those of a non-smoker.’

However for those adult smokers who have switched to e-cigarettes, flavours are important. Why?

The key health benefit of e-cigarettes is determined by how many smokers switch to them or use them as a staging post to quitting completely. This means that e-cigarettes have to be an attractive alternative to tobacco cigarettes for established smokers. Flavouring is an important part of this as the nicotine solutions have no flavour. Removing or banning flavourings would actually reduce the appeal of e-cigarettes to smokers.

In research[16] 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.

This major piece of research concluded:

 

  • That far from marketing flavours to attract children, flavours are marketed to ‘satisfy vapers’ demand’,
  • Flavours contribute to both perceived pleasure and the effort to reduce or quit smoking,
  • Restrictions on flavours could cause harm to current vapers, and
  • Current flavour variability must be maintained.

 

The proliferation of flavours reinforces that view that these are recreational consumer products, not smoking cessation aids, medicines or tobacco products.

We welcomed the decision by both the UK and Welsh governments to introduce bans on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s. As 99.9 per cent of e-cigarette users are current or former smokers, such a move was not just responsible, it was also common sense. It will now be up to the authorities to enforce this ban. As an aside, perhaps you could inform us as to which pizza takeaways in North Wales were selling e-cigarettes. A number of vapers took the time to call round such places and were unable to find a single one selling e-cigarettes.

In your piece you raise the issue of passive vaping and cite countries where public vaping bans have been introduced, including Wales where such a ban has been proposed.

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? A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos and Professor Riccardo Polosaconcluded that the ‘effects of e-cigarette use on by-standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.’[17]

One of the examples you cite, of a country that has introduced a public vaping ban, is Spain. Following the introduction of the ban in Spain there has been a 70 per cent fall in the number of vapers and a 60 per cent decrease in the number of vaping shops[18]. People that had made the switch to e-cigarettes are unfortunately now smoking again. Surely this is not something you would like to see repeated elsewhere?

Such bans are not supported by the public who are actually very supportive of e-cigarettes. A recent poll by the BBC[19] found that 75 per cent of the public would be happy if their friends or family switched from smoking tobacco cigarettes to using e-cigarettes, and 62 per cent of the public said that e-cigarettes should not be banned in public.

Finally, you raise the issue of regulation. E-cigarettes are currently regulated by at least 17 EU Directives and a number of other regulations at the Member State level.[20] The revised Tobacco Products Directive when it comes into force in 2016 will introduce further regulation and see e-cigarettes more strictly regulated than some tobacco products. You mentioned the specific example of the inclusion of health warnings. These warnings are not as you implied akin to those on tobacco products, they are simply to inform people of the addictive nature of nicotine.

Yes nicotine is addictive but that does not mean it is dangerous. Caffeine is addictive, is that dangerous? The nicotine contained in e-cigarettes is the same pharmaceutical grade nicotine used in NRT products (some of which are inhaled). As Professor Robert West said: “E-cigarettes are about as safe as you can get. We know about the health risks of nicotine. Nicotine is not what kills you when you smoke tobacco. E-cigarettes are probably about as safe as drinking coffee.”[21]

Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London, said: “E-cigarettes are orders of magnitudes safer than cigarettes because they do not release smoke which contains toxins which are responsible for heart disease, lung disease, and cancer.”[22] The NHS has also concluded that e-cigarettes are 1,000 times safer than tobacco cigarettes[23]. You should also note that many vapers use an e-cigarette that does not contain any nicotine.

In your approach you are going against the precautionary principle as it was originally intended, you are trying to mitigate for a risk that has yet to be proven and in doing so may do more harm than good. Given that 99.9 per cent of e-cigarette users are current or former smokers, and given that e-cigarettes are significantly safer than tobacco cigarettes, the only sensible thing to do is to encourage e-cigarette use up until the time (if such a time were ever to arise) when a direct negative risk between e-cigarettes and a vapers health can be proven beyond doubt. To do anything else would be to condemn millions of smokers in the UK to an even earlier death. Would you rather someone smoked or vaped?

All those with a genuine interest in public health need to stay focussed on the bigger picture – significantly reducing the number of people who die from tobacco related illnesses. Conventional nicotine replacement therapies are not tackling this in any significant number, but e-cigarettes could. Already 2.1 million smokers have switched to e-cigarettes. The rise of e-cigarette sales is directly contributing to a decline in tobacco cigarettes sales. In the words of Professor Robert West: “What is the problem that requires further regulation?”[24] This should be a cause for celebration, not concern.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] http://www.social-change.co.uk/news/post.php?s=2014-06-19-e-cigarettes-children-and-adults-who-like-gummy-bears-are-e-cigarettes-a-good-thing

[2] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/apr/28/e-cigarette-users-triple-ash-survey

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

[4] http://tobaccocontrol.bmj.com/content/early/2014/04/30/tobaccocontrol-2013-051394.abstract?sid=e065daee-e796-4cd1-8bf5-30ae2696f39f

[5] Research undertaken by Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London

[6] Study carried out on 5,000 smokers, by Professor Robert West looking at the success rate of different methods to stop smoking: nicotine gum, nicotine patches, nothing, or e-cigarettes. Reported on BBC Breakfast 28 April 2014

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

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

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

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

[11] The Independent Newspaper, 29 March 2013

[12]John Moores University – ‘Young People’s Perceptions and Experiences of Electronic Cigarettes’

[13] http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf

[14] http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf

[15] http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00409-0/fulltext

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

[17] 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

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

[19] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24909648

[20] http://www.clivebates.com/?p=1092

[21] The Guardian Newspaper, 05 June 2013

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

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

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

The proposal to ban vaping in public in Wales. A comment by Darren Millar AM.

Darren Millar AM

Darren Millar AM

As smoking bans become more widespread around the world smokers are looking for alternatives that will allow them to continue to get their nicotine fix unabated and many have found a solution in electronic cigarettes.

Here in Wales, as is the case elsewhere in the UK, they are currently allowed just about anywhere in public – even where tobacco smoking is banned.

However, the Welsh Government’s public health white paper consultation, published last month, includes plans that would see Wales become the first part of the UK to ban the use of electronic cigarettes in enclosed public places.

Ministers say they are responding to concern that the devices normalise smoking and undermine the smoking ban.

Personally, I am unconvinced by the arguments for a public ban on e-cigarettes and I fear this would be a huge step backwards for quitters.

There is a clear danger that forcing someone who is using e-cigarettes to kick their habit to go outside into a smoker’s hut will put them in temptation’s way and harm their health due to second-hand smoke exposure.

We should be giving people a helping hand to quit – not yanking them backwards. Anything that stigmatises those working hard to improve their health should be very carefully examined.

Dr Pat Riordan, director of the Health and Healthcare Improvement Division, which runs Stop Smoking Wales, agrees. He has said “The last thing we want to do is alienate smokers who are using e-cigs in good faith as a part of their attempt to cut down or quit smoking.”

Public health guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence ‘Tobacco: harm-reduction approaches to smoking’ supports the use of licenced nicotine containing products to aid people in cutting down or quitting smoking.

And a recent BBC poll of nearly 1,000 people suggested most people supported the use of e-cigarettes in public places.

Professor John Britton, of the Royal College of Physicians has stated that if all the people in Britain who currently smoke traditional cigarettes switched to e-cigarettes, 5 million lives would be saved from smoking related deaths – a huge saving in not just unnecessary deaths but also many millions of pounds which would otherwise be spent on medical care and supporting a bereaved family.

Of course, quitting smoking would have the same effect, but it is clear that not every smoker could or would want to stop smoking.

A recent survey of more than 1,600 e-cigarette users found that 61% would return to tobacco if e-cigs were banned. With one person dying from smoking-related illness every 90 minutes in Wales and with smoking the biggest cause of avoidable ill health and early  death in the UK, surely it is better for people to be using e-cigarettes than the real thing.

E-cigarettes clearly work for 2.1million adults in the UK and the Welsh Government must bring forward the evidence behind their proposals to provide clarity on the justification for these proposals within the Public Health Bill.

People who choose to use e-cigarettes do so because they are trying to kick a very addictive and unhealthy habit. We should be supporting these people in their efforts as much as we can, not hindering them.

 

Please note Darren Millar wrote this piece in May of this year for his own blog, but has kindly allowed us to reproduce it here. 

Let’s start with the good news….

Another response to Welsh Health Minister Mark Drakeford and his lack of evidence.

Let’s start with the good news. There are at least 100,000 vapers in Wales, which has mainly grown over the last 2 years. A vaper is simply someone who uses an e-cigarette. These people are now smoking fewer or no cigarettes. With 5,000 people dying every year in Wales from smoking related illnesses according to the Welsh NHS, this should be a cause for celebration not concern.

Recently published figures from the Welsh Health Survey has shown a fall of 2% in the proportion of people who smoke. Given that the Welsh population currently sits at around 3.5 million, 2% of that number works out at approximately 70,000. Given that there are 100,000 vapers in Wales, could not a large proportion of that smoking reduction be attributed to the rise of e-cigarette use ?

Now onto the bad news: the Welsh Government’s proposal to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public spaces, substantially enclosed public places, and places of work.

Health Minister Mr Drakeford, whilst recognising the benefits of e-cigarettes stated in his recent article that he has a number of concerns regarding their use in public. These concerns include e-cigarettes undermining the current smoking ban, contributing to a renormalisation of smoking, being a gateway product, and being targeted at children.

These concerns would be perfectly valid if they had any foundation or evidence base, but they do not. In fact the available evidence points to the contrary.

The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health stated that there is a 99.7 per cent compliance rate with the smoking ban[1], and there is no evidence to support the idea that the use of e-cigarettes in public is undermining this. Yes, some companies have introduced a vaping ban, but we are seeing a growing number of such companies reversing these bans. Recently, Cambridgeshire Police, following a review of “health fears”, decided to allow their officers to vape at work[2].

Leading Pubco Enterprise Inns have recently reversed their ban on e-cigarettes in their licensed premises. In a further move, Enterprise Inns has signed a new supply deal for its tenants to stock and sell Nicolites e-cigarettes which will form part of their open welcome to the vaping community.

There is no evidence that e-cigarette use in public leads to a renormalisation of smoking either. Professor Robert West, Professor of Health Psychology and Director of Tobacco Studies at University College London’s Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, following his latest research concluded:“Despite claims that electronic cigarettes risk re-normalising smoking, we found no evidence to support this.”[3]

When it comes to concerns about e-cigarettes being a gateway product and their use amongst children, of course experts need to monitor this, but all the evidence to date shows that we have nothing to worry about.

To justify his concerns, Mr Drakeford cited a study produced by John Moores University, yet this study actually concludes that ‘Overall seven out of eight young people had never accessed e-cigarettes’. Recent research produced by ASH also shows that e-cigarettes are not a gateway to smoking[4]. Furthermore, the survey found that regular use of e-cigarettes amongst children is rare and confined almost entirely to those who are currently or have previously smoked[5]. Research undertaken by Queen Mary University[6] found that a child trying a tobacco cigarette for the first time is 50 per cent likely to become a regular smoker. The same research found no evidence that a child trying an e-cigarette for the first time goes on to become a regular vaper. Thankfully the Welsh Government has introduced a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s, a move that we fully support!

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? A major scientific study undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos (Researcher, Onassis Cardiac Surgery Centre, Greece, University Hospital Gathuisberg, Belgium) and Professor Riccardo Polosa (Director of the Institute for Internal Medicine and Clinical Immunology of the University of Catania, Italy) concluded that the ‘effects of e-cigarette use on by-standers are minimal compared with conventional cigarettes.’[7]

In his article, Mr Drakeford stated that this proposal was rather minor and that it would have no impact on the e-cigarette industry or vapers. However, in Spain where a ban on the use of e-cigarettes in public places has been introduced, there has been a 70 per cent fall in the number of vapers and a 60 per cent decrease in the number of vaping shops[8]. People that had made the switch to e-cigarettes are unfortunately now smoking again.

If the Welsh Government succeeds in banning e-cigarettes in public places, they will be forcing vapers to vape alongside smokers and exposing them to the dangers of second-hand smoke. We are in contact with vapers on a daily basis and many have said such a ban would simply force them back to smoking. Is this really what the Welsh Government wants?

A recent open letter to the World Health Organisation was signed by no less than 53 of the leading scientists in nicotine and public health policy. The open letter appealed directly the WHO to adopt a positive, proportionate and rational approach to products that provide very low-risk alternatives to smoking – products such as e-cigarettes. It called upon the WHO to recognise that this approach, tobacco harm reduction, as an important part of the solution offering great promise for public health, and not part of the problem.

In a recent BBC[9] poll 62 per cent of the public said e-cigarettes should not be banned in public and Professor John Briton from the Royal College of Physicians has 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.”[10]

The rise of e-cigarette sales is directly contributing to a decline in cigarettes sales. In the words of Professor Robert West: “What is the problem that requires further regulation?”[11] What public health gain does the Welsh Government hope to achieve with this proposal?

With a ban on the advertising of e-cigarettes soon to be introduced, following the passing of the Tobacco Products Directive, 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 safer alternative.

In its approach the Welsh Government are going against the precautionary principle as it was originally intended, they are trying to mitigate for a risk that has yet to be proven and in doing so may do more harm than good.

 

 

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

[2] http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Cambridge/Police-in-Cambridgeshire-can-smoke-e-cigarettes-after-health-review-but-they-are-banned-on-our-trains-20130821131920.htm

[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.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf

[6] Research undertaken by Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London

[7] 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

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

[9] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-24909648

[10] The Independent Newspaper, 29 March 2013

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

Save E-cigs has written to Dr Glover asking what advice she gave in relation to e-cigarettes and the TPD.

Eurocrats twist the evidence…. Finally the EU Chief Scientific Adviser has spoken out.

We knew it went on – it was graphically illustrated when Dr Farsalinos wrote that famous letter of his which you can read here – he quite rightly points out that his work has been misrepresented.

Dr Lynn Dawkins wrote in a similar vein, but that too was ignored and the TPD when ahead – after drastic changes that were negotiated behind closed doors.

And then last week this article is published: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/05/30/Eurocrats-twist-scientific-evidence-to-suit-politcal-imperative.

Dr Anne Glover is the Chief Scientific Adviser to the EU, but it seems her advice is generally ignored. In the article she uses a fictitious example –“ “Let’s imagine a Commissioner over the weekend thinks, ‘Let’s ban the use of credit cards in the EU because credit cards lead to personal debt.’ So that commissioner will come in on Monday morning and say to his or her Director General, ‘Find me the evidence that demonstrates that this is the case.’”

The Commissioner’s staff might resist the idea but in the end, she said, “they will do exactly what they’re asked” and “find the evidence” to show that credit card use leads to personal debt, even though this may not be the case in reality.”

And even more telling is this line: “if people don’t like what’s being proposed, what they say is that there is something wrong with the evidence.”

And this is exactly what happened to e cigarettes during the Tobacco Products Directive journey. Time and again research was presented to the EU, the MEPs and those tasked with ensuring the TPD was achieved within a very tight time frame. Time and again we saw credible evidence refuted for mere hypotheses – a few ‘what if’s’ and completely unscientific scaremongering.

The article ends – to make the case succinctly “For example, the EU’s 2007 REACH policy (Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) generated 36 different impact assessment studies, many from within the chemicals industry warning of the disastrous costs of the policy.

Yet, said Glover, “A final impact study ended up broadly confirming the Commission’s original assessment.”

One can only wonder at the information that passed the desk of the scientific advisers when it came to e cigarettes. Save E-cigs has written to Dr Glover asking what advice she gave in relation to e-cigarettes and the TPD, if and when we find out we will let you know. Watch this space.

 

“I resist things that feel wrong, that feel unethical and I have always been anti-anything which sounds like being unjust. Very often this meant being badmouthed as being anti-establishment.”

Hazel Mabe, vaping activist.

Hazel Mabe, vaping activist.

 

An interview with Hazel Mabe; vaper and activist from IG-ED (Interessengemeinschaft E-Dampfen e.V.), the first and largest German vaping association, and a member EVUN, a forum for all European vapers organisations and individuals to unite.

 

We were very lucky to have the chance to talk to Hazel Mabe, a lady that is a force to be reckoned with within the German vaping community. We caught up with her over Skype, and asked her not only how she got into vaping, but also how she became involved with IG-ED and EVUN, and found that protesting runs deep in her blood.

Hazel was, as she says ‘confronted with vaping’ by a friend of hers. In the German language, vaping can also mean ‘steaming with anger’ – so when Hazel’s friend posted a comment to say she was vaping, Hazel instantly thought she was angry and was having yet another fight with her husband!  But  thankfully not so.

It was this simple post that started Hazel’s vaping journey.

After plenty of Google searching Hazel well and truly got into vaping, and like many of us on this journey she’d smoked for 30 years and she’d smoked a lot – in the end it was 45 fags a day. She was finding it increasingly hard to walk upstairs without gasping for breath.

Starting off with a ‘ciggie like’ because that’s what she wanted, the entire concept of vaping appealed to her. It wasn’t only the fresh taste she enjoyed, but it tickled her sense of humour, as she liked nothing less than vaping where smoking was banned and then pop the ciggie like back into her pocket to the astonishment of onlookers!

 

But switching completely took its time; it wasn’t a case of zero cigarettes after the first vape. Hazel initially felt she would be happy with a 50% reduction in her smoking, as that was the best she had ever achieved with NRT. But after four days of vaping, she found herself having only smoked 10 of the usual 45 cigarettes, and it was then she became competitive with herself. If she made it through the day without a cigarette, she would (interestingly) “reward” herself with a cigarette just before going to sleep.

But by Xmas of 2010, roughly a month after starting her vaping journey, there were days when she was forgetting to smoke.

On the 2nd Jan 2011 Hazel had her last cigarette, as that ‘reward’ that night tasted disgusting.

3rd Jan 2011 was Hazels first smoke free day. She’s been smoke free ever since.

 

3 weeks after starting to vape she became involved with the German vaping forums, and gradually became more and more involved, finally becoming integrated into one of the two largest forums and becoming a moderator. As a dedicated DIY mixer, Hazel became briefly the ‘Queen of self-mixing’, helping new vapers to start mixing their own e juice, and that´s how a lot of people in the community became aware of who she was.

Asking her about this, and why she wanted to get involved in fighting the EU, Hazel quickly replied “it’s normal for me, I was a hippie in the 1960’s and 1970’s. I was a student that protested in the streets against Vietnam and the Shah of Persia, and against the government at the time, as it was bringing in emergency measures that would abolish many civil rights in Germany during a time of crisis.”

“I resist things that feel wrong, that feel unethical and I have always been anti-anything which sounds like being unjust. Very often this meant being badmouthed as being anti-establishment.”

Unfortunately due to a personal situation Hazel retired from the forums, but still wanted to continue to work for vapers, and it was suggested that she could help IG-ED.

What could she offer? Her major at University had been German language, so it evolved that IG-ED wrote the draft article they want to publish, and Hazel would just polish it up. She soon took on the role of international relations, as being an American German, (with a father that was half Native American Indian who had fought for his people), she had all the language skills required, and you can see where the protesting genes came from!

Hazel, and as a result German and EU vapers also had the added advantage that for years she had run her own PR company with her husband. From that experience Hazel learnt how people and companies manipulate the masses into believing this or that, “you mostly do it for commercial purposes but you can do it as well on a political scale, for law making, and now this experience comes in handy.”

She understood the political and regulatory game that was being played out with the TPD in the media and elsewhere.

 

 

Currently IG-ED are in a planning phase, as the German Government changed last year, unfortunately at the same time the TPD trilogue meetings were underway. German MP’s and administrative officials have moved jobs, ministries have merged, and of course there are now new people. At the moment IG-ED is busy identifying who their specialist contact persons in the new administration are, and are starting to plan a possible campaign for the members of Parliament.

At the same time, IG-ED are busy doing all they can to support the German EFVI collection of signatures. They started a project called “IG-ED on tour” which is designed to get out into the streets with a little mobile booth to inform the public about vaping in general, as well as about the EFVI initiative and about IG-ED’s work – and last but not least: to collect more supportive signatures, from passers-by who would lend them an ear.

IG-ED are also supporting German EFVI activists in establishing a German version of the British Dodo boxes – both by logistical means as well as topping the crowd funding efforts of the German EFVI activists, for financing the boxes by 10 per cent of the collected donations.

Within roughly 10 days, the community donated ~ 3,300 Euros, and IG-ED put their 10% on top resulting in enough money not only for having the boxes produced, but also for paying the postage, plus extra measures such as printing flyers, printing lists for collecting signatures and the likes.

 

And then there is EVUN, set up to help European vapers consumer organisations to co-ordinate what is going on in each country, to let each other know what’s happening, and to provide a stronger voice for vapers in Europe. Being a fantastic networker, the EVUN Facebook page can now boast 1’148 members from across the EU.

As Hazel says, “ We need to communicate with MEPs and the Eurocrats at eye level, not from a submissive position. After all, WE pay THEM!”

“I’m passionate about this. The EU are taking us all for a ride mostof the time, and people don’t realise it!”

“The EU does give us a few advantages, and people seem to only see those, we can’t allow the EU to lead us down a road of destruction. Working previously with very high-ranking Politicians I have no fear of the EU. Be as brilliant as Helmut Schmitd and then I might just respect you! At the moment the EU are M.B.A. – ‘mediocre but arrogant’ – especially the politicians that were involved in trilogue, they have no backbone!”

Talking of the upcoming European Parliament elections, Hazel feels that lots of vapers will vote for the alternative groups as they are fed up, but in Germany the alternative group has no idea about electronic cigarettes. “I wrote to them asking for their position towards the e-cigarette, but for them this is not an issue, they are too busy campaigning on leaving the Euro, claiming that the Euro makes slaves of us all. I can understand it from their point of view – it’s always the big bankers that pull the strings, of all the governments, and it’s Big Industry pulling the strings of MEPs and Committee members by lobbying them to a point where they forget who they should be obliged to and I would love to be one of those who remind them.”

And her final comment to end the interview? “See, I told you I was wayward.” And we are very grateful that she is.