It’s really Ground Hog Day on National No Smoking Day.

Ground Hog Day

 
Last year on No Smoking Day, Save E-cigs decided to look at the official No Smoking Day website to see how much information they were providing regarding e-cigarettes. We were surprised, given the huge potential of e-cigarettes, that there was not one single mention of e-cigarettes on the website. We wrote at the time:

“Is it too much to hope that by National No Smoking Day next year, policy makers and public health campaigners will have realised the amazing potential of e-cigarettes? Is it too much to hope that these people will stop pretending e-cigarettes do not exist or that they are somehow “dangerous”? Is it too much to hope that these people will engage constructively with vapers and try and understand that for the vast majority of smokers NRT just does not work? Perhaps it is, but on this National No Smoking Day, this campaign’s message to policy makers and public health campaigners is this: This is a crucial moment, a narrow window of opportunity. If wisely regulated, e-cigarettes can make tobacco cigarettes obsolete. The stakes are high, and we need to play it right. Please, please, please do not blow it by focussing all your energies on concerns that have no foundation.”

So one year on and it is No Smoking Day again and a search of the official website reveals that yet again it fails to include a single mention of e-cigarettes.

So on a day dedicated to encouraging people to make an extra special effort to give up smoking, the official campaign website fails to mention the most effective method of helping people to quit smoking by enabling them to switch to a less harmful alternative.

Not only does the official website fail to mention e-cigarettes, but many of the individuals and organisations behind No Smoking Day have spent much of the last year doing their level best to undermine e-cigarettes and to discourage people from vaping. Why?

We know from official research that e-cigarettes are at least 60 per cent more effective than traditional NRT and smokers know this too. As a result NRT sales are falling, councils are spending less on smoking cessation services, but fundamentally smoking rates are at their lowest level in recorded history.

So the official No Smoking Day website and many of the organisations and individuals behind the day can continue to ignore reality, but what they should not do is go out of their way to spread unfounded fears about e-cigarettes and to agitate for regulations that bans vaping in public or prevents smokers receiving access to information about e-cigarettes.

If these people really want to help smokers quit then they should set aside their ideological prejudices and embrace those methods that provide the best chance of helping a smoker quit. You only have to look to Leicester to see what happens when a smoking cessation service embraces e-cigarettes.

Our sector needs tidying up; it does not need destroying

Fraser Cropper, CEO of Totally Wicked explains why TW is taking the EU to court.

Join us in saying NO

The electronic cigarette, personal vapouriser, call them what you will, is in my humble opinion a product group that has the potential to be a global catalyser of positive change that is deserving of Nobel appreciation.

However, we may never see its true potential due to the campaign of misinformation and craven capitulative regulation that is attempting to cripple the nascent begins of the vaping phenomenon. The Tobacco Products Directive (TPD), in its attempt to regulate these products under the auspice of existing tobacco product regulation, is one of the most ill-judged, morally questionable and divisive pieces of legislation that the EU has the arrogance to commit to law.

It is wrong on so many counts that one has to judge its framing on a level beyond sheer incompetence. It will have the potential to destroy what has been created in the past 6 years.

There is no reputable academic evidence that suggests these products are delivering a risk to health that requires such punitive regulation, nor evidence that the millions of users have been harmed by these products. Quite the contrary, all evidence, empirical and theoretical clearly concludes, that for smokers, the transfer to vaping products will transform their health outcome.

Here I risk the wrath of the Pharma clan ‘thought police’. That I, a mere ‘citizen’, never mind business leader, should have the temerity to associate the use of vaping products to the now irrefutable consequences of a self-determined improvement in ones probabilistic life outcome, is not mine to make. But, I will throw caution to the wind and state it nonetheless. However, I categorically do not represent a business that sells, markets or otherwise associates our products or customers to medicines or patients. Nor do I sell tobacco products.

Vaping products sit on neither of these ‘stools’. And I do not even mean with buttocks slightly askew on the seat, fundamentally not sat at all. (Forgive the poor metaphor).

I am very proud of the business that I have inherited the leadership of. I am proud of Totally Wicked, in large part because of what I believe our business stands for. Ignore the commercial considerations for a moment, as I have no intentions of marketing our business in this piece.

We are an independent business, owned by shareholders who share a simple common belief that our business will be a free spirit, answerable only to our customers. Our customers can buy their products from wherever they please, that they chose Totally Wicked makes our business responsible to them. I have promised that their patronage will never be assumed and taken for granted, specifically, they have invested in our business, it is a partnership, and I have a reciprocal responsibility to deliver my part of the partnership equation.

There is no more fundamental responsibility within this equation, than to ensure our customers can continue to find the products that they need and have the legitimate right to purchase and use. The TPD threatens this basic premise, and it does so from no moral or legal base. Every vaper should be eyes open to the agendas being played out in front of us. The young disaggregated industry base and atomized (no pun intended) user base and the resultant lack of collective power and influence is being exploited by the control driven bureaucrats and dizzy headed politicians; unwittingly (one hopes) to destroy this ‘vaping interloper’ that is threatening to destroy the previously unedifying tacit duopoly of the two big business incumbents that prey on the shackled 20% of smokers. So, (I know never start a sentence with ‘So’, but if politicians can start theirs with ‘Look’ than I can with ‘So’), if our business recognises this, and we are true to our word, we had no option other than to take the fight to the source of the TPD and demand that sense is brought to this matter with a court hearing in the European Courts of Justice.

Believe me or not, you will have to judge for yourself, but I will state the following knowing at least to myself the integrity behind the words. Our measure of success is to be allowed to operate within a sector that enables all ethical and professional vaping businesses, large and small, who are willing and able to comply with balanced and customer orientated responsibilities. This requires regulation that protects against the limited objective risk and suitably informs to enable considered choice, and allows trade that meets consumers’ needs.

Our sector needs tidying up; it does not need destroying.

I want Totally Wicked to be every day challenged by true competition that will test our ability to meet customers’ needs. I do not want to run a business that exploits regulation to the detriment of the consumer or legitimate smaller businesses. I have no issue with Tobacco companies selling electronic cigarettes, as long as they are not able to influence and constrain the sector to deliver a recovered monopoly. I back our business, that in a truly competitive environment, that, places customers first we can succeed and build a strong ethical and commercially viable business that can and will compete successfully with either the behemoth tobacco owned or small owner operated vaping stores or artisanal manufacturers.

I believe our case is a Vapers’ case not a simply a Totally Wicked case. Our success is everyone’s success, and I urge all those who care about our vaping future to get involved as necessary and specifically provide your name to the legal challenge site so you can be counted along with like-minded, concerned and threaten vapers.

 

You can sign up and support the legal challenge against the TPD here: http://article20legalchallenge.com/support-the-legal-challenge/

 

Politician and Quote of the week…

As supporters of vaping it can often feel like all in power are against us. However, those of us actively engaged in the policy debate surrounding e-cigarettes know that this is not always the case. There are a growing number of politicians who are willing to take a public stance based on an understanding of the facts. We have therefore decided to celebrate those politicians who are willing to stand up for vapers and vaping by launching a politician of the week.

The winner this week is Viscount Matt Ridley for organising the debate in the House of Lords this week.

Viscount Matt Ridley

 

And our quote of the week is:

 

Earl Cathcart (Con): My Lords, I started smoking before I was a teenager and in recent years smoked up to 50 cigarettes a day—not good for me. I started vaping in July and I have not had or wanted a puff of tobacco since. In spite of trying to give up on countless occasions, only these vaping e-cigarettes have actually helped me kick the habit. Surely that has to be a good thing. Should we not encourage it to help not just me, but the hundreds of thousands or millions of people who want to give up smoking?

 

 

Six months ago I had genuine concerns that we were going to throw the baby out with the bath water …

 

Guest Post by Mike MacKenzie, MSP.

Mike MacKenzie MSP

 

Six months ago I had genuine concerns that we were going to throw the baby out with the bath water as regards electronic cigarettes. An informal lobby was developing a head of steam urging us to do just that.

As a lifelong heavy smoker who has found redemption and a painless way to quit using e-cigarettes I had a personal axe to grind. I haven’t had a cigarette now for two and a half years but even so I still need the crutch of the electronic cigarettes. Intuitively I think I would find it relatively easy to give up electronic cigarettes but I am a great believer in picking the time to fight such battles. Fighting battles on too many fronts can mean you lose them all and I have a real fear that a ban on e-cigarettes would see me back smoking tobacco.

In any case as a lifelong keep fit enthusiast I am relatively in tune with my body and it is sending me signals that e-cigarettes are not nearly as harmful as tobacco was. I can measure my much better performance on the treadmill and the rowing machine, but my general energy levels are also higher as is my ability to remain alert and focussed for long periods. Medical evidence seems to support this view; that e-cigarettes are at worst benign and many health professionals argue strongly on their merits.

Of course regulation is required. We need to make sure that there is a consistently high standard and that no nasty products lurk needlessly within nicotine fluids. I believe we can do this effectively without denying smokers the opportunity to take the easy route offered to quit tobacco use.

I am reassured in this by talking to colleagues many of whom seem now to agree with me. Following the recent Scottish Government re-shuffle I am now a member of the Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee. You can be sure I will be taking full opportunity to make these arguments when the Committee undertakes it’s scrutiny of any forthcoming legislation.

 

 

 

 

Save e-cigs – a year in review.

2014, a year to remember.

Here are just a few of the things that happened:

Writing letters

We wrote hundreds of letters. At times it felt as if we were writing letters almost every day, but I know that’s not strictly true. We did though write copious letters to the press each and every time we saw an article that was misinforming the public re e-cigarettes. As the year progressed it was encouraging to see these letters being published, with some even being turned into articles! It does seem to have helped, as it is now gratifying to see the reporting of battery issues changing to be reported as the wrong charger/battery etc. instead of the screaming ‘e-cig explodes!’ headlines.

Fighting vaping bans

We saw plenty of e-cig bans creep in over the year, the Commonwealth Games being one of the more prominent ones. We fought hard to prevent any that we saw. The Welsh Government is still very keen to impose a vaping ban in public places. We have been writing letters, sending briefings, speaking with the media, having articles published in the press, organising petitions, and meeting with as many Assembly Members that will see us. The highlight of our campaign against this proposed ban had to be the delivery of our petition to the Welsh Assembly Petitions Committee. It was great to see so many Assembly Members turn out to either support us or to simply hear our arguments. Next week we will meet with senior officials at the Welsh Department of Health. These meetings are changing minds and winning us fresh support. We would like to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to the team of Welsh vapers who have collected petition signatures and attended meetings with AMs. Thank you for all you have done!

In 2015 we will continue the fight against vaping bans and are already very busy in Scotland!

Politician of the week

We started a politician of the week to highlight those politicians that have come out in support of vaping/vapers, and to say thank you to them. We had several politicians write blog posts for us, and we were very thankful to Martin Callanan for all his efforts and information during the last weeks of the TPD, when it all changed rather drastically and we saw Trilogue discussions taking place behind closed doors, split and separate votes and the commission getting what they wanted, not what the MEPs voted through.

In the European elections in May a number of our strongest supporters in the European Parliament either stood down or lost their seats. We were particularly sorry to see Chris Davies and Martin Callanan lose their seats. However, Martin was recently ennobled and now sits in the House of Lords as Lord Callanan of Low Fell. Already he is standing up for vapers and vaping in Westminster and was the main speaker at the recent launch of the e-cigarette APPG.

Media

2014 also saw crazy crazy news reporting confusing the hell out of most of us, and, the sad result is that now many people believe the scare stories about e-cigarettes. But, we will continue to inform and educate and can only hope that 2015 will see a wind change as the facts now far outweigh the fear.

Guest posts

There were guest posts from Scientists, from commentators, MPs, interviews with advocates and Industry, we tried to keep a broad stance and garner all opinions and views. We were lucky enough to go to Warsaw and see first hand the incredible work that is being done by many passionate advocates of e-cigarettes, and it was a breath of fresh air to be there, among people that understand e-cigarettes and how they change lives for the better.

The WHO

The WHO report was a low point, and I could write reams about the funding of that organisation, the failures they have incurred, but I won’t. Instead I will just say that the truth will out, and then the WHO will have to change its stance. They did a lot of damage, but we are very grateful to the scientists and advocates that wrote letters and published their opposition to the WHO in the press.

Faculty of Public Health

Another low point was the Faculty of Public Health’s shenanigans on twitter. That was very disturbing to see, and yet more disturbing the whitewash of an apology and then Public Health trying to state they were the victims!

I can certainly say that working for Save e–cigs has been a huge eye opener and sometimes what we see is not that pleasant.

Totally Wicked Legal Challenge.

A higher point was the Totally Wicked court case. They have been granted permission by the UK court to challenge article 20 of the TPD. They will have their day in the EU Courts of Justice later on this year – and I know we all wish them the best of luck.

And what of the year to come?

Already more letters and more briefings have been written and sent. We will continue to lobby for the proposed vaping ban in Wales to be dropped, we will be working with vapers on Scotland as they now face the same the hurdles as Wales, and we will keep on keeping on.

But wouldn’t it be lovely – as a new years wish – that Save e-cigs won’t be needed by the end of the year because the regulators will have a road to Damascus realisation that e-cigarettes are a force for the better, regulate them as such, and then we can all get back to living our lives, vaping, relaxing and not worrying that our e-cigs are going to be taken from us!

That’s certainly my wish for 2015. Happy New Year everyone.

Politician and quote of the week!

As supporters of vaping it can often feel like all in power are against us. However, those of us actively engaged in the policy debate surrounding e-cigarettes know that this is not always the case. There are a growing number of politicians who are willing to take a public stance based on an understanding of the facts. We have therefore decided to celebrate those politicians who are willing to stand up for vapers and vaping by launching a politician of the week.

The third winner of the Save E-cigs Politician of the Week is Kirsty Williams AM, Liberal Democrat member of the Welsh Assembly for Brecon and Radnorshire and Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats.

Kirsty Williams

Kirsty Williams has been a tireless campaigner within the Welsh Assembly against the Welsh Government’s proposals to ban the use of e-cigarettes in enclosed public places throughout Wales. Recently she took the time to meet with Save E-cigs to discuss our work and in particular our own campaign against the said proposed vaping ban.

And our quote of the week is:

“Nobody, not even the self-anointed guardians of public health who wrote the letter, has a shred of evidence that e-cigarette vapor causes even 1 percent of the problems that have been linked to even second-hand cigarette smoke.”

Quote taken from : http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/bs-ed-vaping-letter-20141209-story.html

 

E-cigarettes: Flavours

A major characteristic of the e-cigarette market is the availability of a large number of different flavoured e-liquids. This causes concern for some policy makers who worry that certain flavours may be specifically targeted at young people and that ultimately this could lead to young people taking up e-cigarettes and then going on to smoke actual cigarettes.

The good news is that there is no evidence to support these concerns.

Commenting on Action on Smoking and Health’s (ASH) 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.”[1] This same research showed that regular use of e-cigarettes amongst children and young people is rare and is confined almost entirely to those who currently or have previously smoked[2]. Research undertaken by Queen Mary University in London[3] found that a child trying a tobacco cigarette for the first time is 50 per cent more 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.

We also know from recent research that flavours are not enticing children to use e-cigarettes either.

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[4] 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.’ Tobacco cigarettes are the gateway to tobacco smoking, not e-cigarettes.

However for those adults 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.

“For many (a ban on flavourings) it would be disastrous – they’ve moved away from “ciggie” flavours onto any one of dozens, in some cases, or, in many cases, they switch flavours during the day to suit their moods. This, apparently, is to get away from their taste buds becoming used to one flavour, so that every change makes it a “fresh” experience and helps them avoid going back to fags. It’s not something that bothers me, particularly, but I do know that for a very large proportion of folks, it’s a vital part of the e-cig experience. Without it, going back to cigs isn’t too much of a stretch. Folks are worried about it. The thing about e-cigs is that they’re customisable in terms of flavour, nicotine strength, diluent (and therefore vapour density) and temperature – so anyone, given the chance, can sort out for themselves something that gives them a much more attractive experience in comparison with cigarettes, the consequences of which are pretty obvious, really.”

David Dorn, e-cigarette user and commentator

In research[5] 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.

Many politicians worry that certain flavours are created with children in mind, again this fear in unfounded. Research actually shows that adult vapers (18 – 65) prefer supposedly “juvenile” flavours[6].

 

 

Conclusion

Removing flavourings risks driving existing e-cigarette users back to tobacco cigarettes and limiting the positive discrimination between tobacco cigarettes and e-cigarettes, which is a significant factor in encouraging smokers to transfer their usage to less harmful e-cigarettes. Research produced by the Consumer Advocates for Smoke Free Alternatives Association[7] found that just under two thirds of e-cigarette users would return to smoking cigarettes if the electronic version was made harder to get or was altered in some way such as through the banning of flavours.

In the UK each year 114,000 people die from tobacco related illnesses according to figures produced by the NHS[8].

We know that nicotine replacement therapies with their 90 per cent failure rate do not work. We also know that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to tobacco cigarettes and that they enjoy widespread popularity amongst the public at large[9].

 

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

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

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

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

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

[6] http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/07/17/survey-shows-adults-who-use-e-cigarettes-to-quit-smoking-prefer-allegedly-juvenile-flavors/

[7] http://casaa.org/uploads/8_Biggest_Electronic_Cigarette_Myths.pdf

[8] http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/2344.aspx?CategoryID=53

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