Why the duplication of existing e cig regulations?

 

This proposed bill as mentioned here: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/back-law-can-ban-e-cigarette-7982540

And can be followed here: http://bit.ly/1tjrKAB is a bill regarding the banning of advertising of e-cigarettes and the legal age of purchase in England and Wales.

No, this isn’t the TPD mark 2.

This bill has been proposed by Welsh MP Geraint Davies, and it brings a few things into question, not least, is Mr Davies aware of the TPD? Because it is very strange that he has tabled this, when the banning of advertising is already in the TPD.

And we are of course all aware that a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s has already been introduced (January of this year).

This MP’s bill is therefore completely pointless.

His private members bill has passed the first reading stage; it did this on the 22nd of October, without debate (standard practice) and will now progress to second reading.

However, having said that it is pointless, the second reading stage should provide an opportunity for a debate on the subject of electronic cigarettes in Parliament.

And this is an opportunity not to be missed, because  we all now have the opportunity to get our MPs involved.

We believe this bill is due to be read a second time on the 16th of January 2015, (however there are two dates on the HoC page – one that said the 16th Jan, the second some time in March. We will of course keep you all aware and updated, but those of you interested enough can keep updated via the second link in the post).

We have been thinking about this bill, and wondering about it. On the issue of advertising, as already said, the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) that will come into force in 2016, (subject to TW’s legal challenge), includes provisions to ban all advertising of electronic cigarettes.

Yes, thrown into the mix is the recent Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) regulation, where they have introduced a robust yet proportionate code of practice for the electronic cigarette industry, and if these rules are proven to work, (and we hope that they do), it would be perverse for the Government to go ahead with a blanket ban on the marketing and advertising of e-cigarettes.

Perhaps this is what has confused him?

But it remains curious as to why Mr Davies is bringing in a bill that basically repeats what is already out there.

But seeing as he has, let’s all use this is an opportunity!

We URGE you all to get writing to your MPs, tell them about the bill, send them the link and ask them to attend the seconds reading – get them active and involved and we can then put this bill where it should be.

Save e cigs has welcomed the ban on under 18 sales in England, and we also publicly welcomed the decision of the Welsh Assembly Government to ban such sales in Wales. Right now we are calling for bans on such sales in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

 

And you thought job interviews were tough! Meetings with politicians by Rhydian Mann.

Interview

On Weds 22nd Oct I met Antoinette Sandbach for the Save e-cigs campaign. Antoinette  is a Welsh Conservative Assembly Member representing North Wales . She has a rather positive voting history if applied to vaping and she comes across as being on our side, and  she mentioned that she has always voted against any regulation proposals.

Normally I am rather prepared for discussions with people regarding e-cigs, but this time dealing with a politician was a completely new and somewhat daunting event to prepare for, especially around my normal day job.

So what did I have to contend with?

After the introductions, I asked Antoinette what she wanted to know in order to judge her knowledge of ecigs rather than bursting into why are ecigs are amazing, healthier etc. Turns out she wanted a general background to start off with, however she also mentioned that ecigs are not medically tested. This is a situation I am always prepared for, I always carry with me a 1st gen ciggalike, a general gen 2 device and then there is my gen 3 device which I all placed on her desk. I gave a brief description of what each device was and the difference between them in terms of performance.

She then threw me off a bit by asking “what information is there to say that one is actually better than the other?” That’s something I will have to actually get into my head, however I told her that from personal experience I can say that gen 1 is not as good as the other generations. (Throw off semi averted).

Antoinette then expressed concerns about product safety which fell into 2 separate areas; e-liquid and hardware, especially batteries after recent stories in the media. She also felt that there was a lack of information regarding the actual amount of nicotine being inhaled by the users and a general lack of information about the products.

Let’s start with the batteries. Instead of unleashing the “people are stupid and use wrong chargers” approach, which could have been rather easy for me, I went on to state that all reputable vendors show exactly how to set up devices properly and how to charge them properly. I emphasised that reputable vendors give all necessary advice and kits include instructions.

Antoinette accepted this but still enquired that the products are unregulated. This is completely not true as us vapers know. For starters e-cigs have to meet 17 (forgive me if this incorrect) EU consumer products regulations including getting certification as electrical products which are the CE and RoHS markings on devices and batteries or their packaging. I went to say that ECITA are testing batteries to purposefully make them go beyond normal working parameters. So far the information from ECITA made available via their blog has shown that no batteries are able to “explode” on their own. So all these “explosions” are a result of user error.

Then onto e-liquid safety. Antoinette said that “there is no way of knowing how much nicotine a user inhales  compared to a pack of cigarettes, which has the nicotine content labelled”. This is an open door I didn’t exactly barge through at the time. I should have gone down the route of “actually tobacco pack labelling is wrong, cigarettes have up to 50mg or more according to Dr F” which my mind wanted me to say but I actually replied “tobacco smokers don’t know either, they don’t smoke an entire one in one breath” Maybe not the best I could have been. 

I then gave her a fully labelled bottle of e-liquid to have a look at. She seemed shocked by the safety phrases on the bottle. Especially “fatal if swallowed” and “fatal in contact with skin”. I then clarified that this label was from before the poison reclassification of e-liquid nicotine to the same level as washing up liquid. I then stated that the 10ml bottle had a concentration of 6mg/ml and has no more than 60mg in it and would cause nothing worse than vomiting if swallowed. She questioned “how would the nicotine concentration be true against the label?” or words similar.  My answer was testing, as reputable e liquid companies and  ECITA members get their liquids tested.

After much to-ing and fro-ing about quality, testing and even the TPD got thrown in to put some aspects of the conversation into some perspective, Antoinette dropped the question I half expected to get but always treat with some trepidation. That question being…

“Would you want to see regulation of electronic cigarettes?”

I gave my personal opinion and emphasised that it was. Of course I want regulation which can mean safer hardware and good quality e-liquids but not so much regulation that the market is crippled and user are not able to get products that satisfy them.

I was actually running out of steam, pardon the pun, with almost 30mins of discussion passed. Then mentioning the Welsh Government proposals brought out some rather good advice from Antoinette. She said that the best way to get the minds changing on the proposals is to get meetings with members of the health committee and get as many face to face meetings with constituency AMs as possible.

That is very good advice indeed from Antoinette. This is something that all Welsh vapers should do. If you are able, arrange a meeting with your local AM, the vaping community have a voice and it should be heard.

But what did I personally get out of this meeting?

1 – never go into a meeting politician with a pre-determined idea of what will be discussed.
2 – always have a good understanding of the science that we have on our side
3 – never be daunted, a politician is just a person and a consumer at the end of the day.
4 – don’t over complicate the topic, it can lead both of you into confusion.
5 – always hold back your first reaction to any questions.

 

Editors note : A big thanks to Rhydian for not only attending this meeting on behalf of Save e cigs, but for also writing this excellent post!

Good COP bad COP.

 Good cop Bad Cop

 

We’ve all seen the tweets from Drew Johnson from his time in Moscow when he was reporting on the Framework Convention of Tobacco Control (FCTC)– if you’ve not seen them, then follow him on twitter @Drews_Views.

Drew is a journalist and despite being frogmarched out of some FCTC meetings he managed to report what was going on – i.e. the removal of the press, the removal of the public and the holding down of dissenting delegates. He also told us about e cig discussions held behind closed doors – and we can all draw a parallel with the EU TPD there.

But what did COP6 do for vaping?

Did they head any of the warnings and letters that were sent?

Yes, yes they did.

They took note of all the ones that hate e-cigs.

We sent them a briefing – you can read it here:

Now, words have power – just say the word should, and then say the word love – and you will hopefully feel a difference in the way you feel and react. Should will probably make you tense a little, love will hopefully help you to relax. Words have a profound effect on how you feel and respond.

So, bearing this power in mind – why have the WHO FCTC coined the acronym ENDS when discussing electronic cigarettes. Are they subliminally telling us something?

But back to COP6 and was it a good COP or bad COP scenario?

Starting out with the good COP (to soften you up, make you relax a little – have a tea and some donuts…)

Did the WHO FCTC do anything good in relation to e cigs?

Well, they want to prevent e cigs ending up in young non-smokers hands – they don’t want a new generation of nicotine addicts.

They want to prevent unproven health claims for e cigarettes.

But that’s it – (remove said tea and donuts and let the heavy take over…)

Bad COP wants to ‘monitor’ e cigarettes, he wants to ban them, ban the advertising of them, and destroy the tobacco industry, (I’m paraphrasing here but you get the idea). He also wants make e cigs a tobacco product so the FCTC can destroy those too.

Now, there have been a great many articles written about the WHO’s FCTC COP6 meeting, and the usual phrases have been trotted out to defend these awful decisions –i.e., ‘they are protecting the children’, plus a nice new one – they are also protecting women and foetuses.

But what will the effects of these e cig policies be? Bearing in mind that signatories of the FCTC are obliged to implement them – and that includes good old Blighty.

The majority of the suggestions made are already in the TPD, so nothing too new – except the desire to ban e cigarettes if possible and to make them a tobacco product.

And these are bad things because they will warn people away from e cigarettes.

People do still give the WHO the credence it no longer deserves, they do listen to what comes out of the WHO media, and surprisingly, many see them as an authority on health.

I know, I know.

Essentially what the FCTC is doing though is telling people that switching to a product that is in the realms of 95% less harmful than tobacco is not the right thing to do – and they are doing it on the grounds of poor research and listening to people who just don’t like e cigs – its an ideology, much like communism or libertarianism.

It’s a belief.

But a belief that will harm people. People will carry on smoking instead of switching.

We at Save e-cigs think global health is far more important than implementing ideology, and it is a sad day for Public Health and the FCTC that they can come up with regulations like these.

Looks like Bad COP wins the day.

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