Our Letter to the Welsh Health and Social Care Committee

On the 17th of September the Health and Social Care Committee took evidence from amongst others, Dr Stephen Monaghan of BMA Wales and Dr Jane Fenton-May of the Royal College of General Practitioners.

In their evidence Dr Monaghan and Dr Fenton-May made a number of statements:

  • Nicotine is addictive
  • Nicotine is dangerous
  • Children share e-cigarettes and therefore contact hepatitis
  • Vaping undermines the smoking ban
  • E-cigarettes are targeted at children
  • Passive vaping is dangerous
  • E-cigarettes lead to the renormalisation of smoking and are a gateway to smoking
  • The e-cigarette industry is owned by tobacco
  • People using them do not realise that they contain nicotine

Like you, we believe that policy should be based on evidence and as a campaign representing the interests of vapers, their friends, and their families, this is particularly important to us. It was therefore interesting that when asked by two members of the committee to provide evidence, they were unable to provide a single piece of evidence to support a single one of the above statements.

Does vaping undermine the smoking ban?

There is no evidence what-so-ever to indicate that vaping undermines the smoking ban or makes it harder to enforce. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the body tasked with enforcing the ban, stated that there is a 99.7 per cent compliance rate with the smoking ban, and they have found no evidence to support the idea that vaping in public is undermining this.[1]

Are e-cigarettes targeted at children?

No. 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. Researchers from the ACS[2] 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.’

Flavours are though important for adult smokers switching to vaping. In research[3] 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.

Strict new advertising rules also make it impossible for the industry to target children through advertising and a ban on the sale of e-cigarettes to under 18s will soon be introduced in Wales.

Are e-cigarettes used regularly by children?

 No. Looking specifically at Wales, Cancer Research UK concluded: ‘Looking specifically at two studies dedicated the use of e-cigarettes amongst young people in Wales only a minority of teenagers who try e-cigarettes go on to become regular users. And the majority of those who do use the devices regularly were already smokers.’[4] This is backed up by research undertaken by ASH.[5] We also know of no cases of hepatitis contacted from shared vaping.

Do e-cigarettes lead to a renormalisation of smoking and act as a gateway to smoking?

No. We are very lucky in the UK that a significant amount of work is done on the issues or gateway and renormalisation. This work in updated on a regular basis and is principally carried out by Professor Robert West and ASH. Both state that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes act as a gateway into smoking[6] and that there is no evidence that vaping risks re-normalising smoking.[7]

Is the e-cigarette industry really owned by big tobacco?

No. Figures produced by the Electronic Cigarette Industry Trade Association (ECITA) show that of the 407 brands/companies operating in this sector in the UK only six are owned by tobacco companies. The companies they own are those that manufacture and sell the cig-a-like e-cigarettes. These are the more ineffective products that are used by an increasing minority of vapers as research from the University of East London demonstrates.[8]

Is nicotine addictive and dangerous?

 Most e-liquids will contain pharmaceutical grade nicotine. It will be MHRA approved and the same as that used in NRT products. This clean nicotine in and of itself is not a harmful substance. 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.”[9] Over the summer a number of bodies including ASH[10] and the Royal Society of Public Health[11] called for more to be done to ensure the public understand that nicotine is ‘not the deadly component in cigarettes.’

Nicotine is addictive when consumed via cigarette smoke. However, as Professor Linda Bauld and others have made clear, nicotine when consumed in a form other than tobacco is not a particularly addictive substance.[12] You can see this with vapers. Many heavy smokers when they first switch to vaping will start off using a high strength nicotine e-liquid, but over time they will reduce the strength they use and some will even go on to vape nicotine free e-liquid. Vapers often forget to vape; would they do this if they were addicted?

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.”[13] A review of the available literature conducted last year by researchers at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia concluded that “exposures of bystanders pose no apparent concern.” Finally the US Food and Drug Administration conclude that all other substances measured for e-cigarettes were far below allowable levels for human inhalation. They state that levels are so low that it is more hazardous to an individual’s health to breathe the air in any major metropolitan city during rush hour.

Conclusion

Dr Monaghan’s and Dr Fenton-May’s statements were caveated with ifs and maybes. There should be no room for ifs and maybes in policy making. When asked they were unable to provide members of the committee with any evidence to support their statements. In this briefing we have countered their statements with facts and we have drawn those facts from ASH, Cancer Research UK, the MHRA, Professor Linda Bauld, Professor Robert West, Public Health England, ECITA, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos, the ONS, Royal Society of Public Health, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, University of East London, Professor Riccardo Polosa, the American Cancer Society and others.

Banning vaping in enclosed public places is not a minor change as supporters of the ban will have you believe. Vapers will go back to smoking and fewer smokers will switch to vaping.

We have pointed out time and time again that there is no evidence to justify this ban. We have provided AMs with numerous briefings and we have written countless times to the Minister and his officials. We feel like we are banging our heads against a brick wall and when we watch evidence sessions like the one on the 17th of September we simply want to cry. What do we have to do to get a fair hearing and for facts to triumph over unfounded, evidence free fears?

 

Yours sincerely

 

Save E-cigs

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

[4] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2015-04-16-regular-e-cigarette-use-low-among-teens-analysis-suggests

[5] http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:latest-data-finds-no-evidence-that-electronic-cigarettes-are-a-gateway-to-smoking-for-young-people

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

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

[8] http://www.uel.ac.uk/psychology/staff/lynnedawkins/

[9] The Guardian newspaper 05 June 2013

[10] http://www.ash.org.uk/:ash-supports-calls-for-more-to-be-done-on-public-understanding-of-nicotine

[11] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/aug/13/health-bosses-promote-e-cigarettes-harmful-tobacco-smoking-experts

[12] http://www.scottishparliament.tv/category.aspx?id=19&page=1&sort=date

[13] 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

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E-cigs, journalists, newspapers and the truth?

On Thursday of last week The Daily Mirror newspaper, either on line or in print, carried three stories relating to e-cigarettes:

 

  1. E-cigs DON’T help smokers quit fags – in fact they make it harder to stop, written by Stephen Beech

 

  1. E-cigarette health warning: Flavoured nicotine liquid packed full of danger chemicals, researchers claim, written by Jasper Hamill

 

  1. Do e-cigarettes encourage smoking? School children more likely to try ‘vaping’ than tobacco, written by Mark Smith

 

And they have recently run the following front page:

 

Mirror

 

The first story highlighted above, written by Stephen Beech puts forward an argument that using e-cigarettes actually makes it harder for people to quit smoking. The overwhelming body of credible evidence makes it clear that this is not actually the case: E-cigarettes actually make it easier for people to quit smoking, by offering them a viable and less harmful alternative. There are 2.1 million vapers in the UK and 700,000 of them have completely stopped smoking as a direct result of vaping. 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.”[1] As e-cigarette use has risen smoking rates have fallen.

 

The second story highlighted above, written by Jasper Hamill states that flavoured nicotine is packed full of dangerous chemicals. This study is based on a tiny sample and crucially does not analyse the vapour that is actually breathed in by users. A number of leading toxicologists have already discounted its findings. The key conclusion in this study was for regulatory action to include requiring ingredient identification, limiting levels of some individual flavour chemicals, and limiting total levels of flavour chemicals. Many of these are things that responsible companies already do and the industry in the UK is working with the British Standards Institute on a recognised standard that will cover all of these issues.

 

The third story highlighted above, written by Mark Smith is very similar to the  papers front page story, namely that children are trying e-cigarettes. However, when you look behind the headline you see a very different situation. The key issue is not how many children are trying e-cigarettes, but how many children having tried them then go on to become regular vapers.

 

Recent research produced by ASH[2] demonstrated that children are not using e-cigarettes in significant numbers. The survey found 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[3].

 

Research undertaken by Queen Mary University in London[4] 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. A recent study by John Moores University found that, ‘Overall seven out of eight young people had never accessed e-cigarettes’[5].

 

What the paper’s article failed to mention was how many young people tried e-cigarettes and then went on to use them on a regular basis. There is a huge difference between trying something once and using something on a regular basis. We know from figures produced by ASH that very few young people are using e-cigarettes on a regular basis and of those that do they are confined almost entirely to those who have currently or previously smoked.[6] This is also exactly what the Cardiff University study showed. As Cancer Research UK have said, “Regular e-cigarette use is low among teens.”[7]

 

It is interesting how the paper chose to report this Cardiff University study because others papers took a different approach and arguably reported the study far more accurately.[8]

 

As a campaign representing the interests of vapers, their friends, and their families we are deeply concerned by these headlines. Not because we blindly support e-cigarettes, but because many of these headlines bear no resemblance to the articles that appear under them, more fundamentally, many of these headlines blow out of all proportion the research that the article is based on and often given undue prominence to second rate science that fails to stand up to even the most basic of expert scrutiny. One of the world’s leading experts on e-cigarettes, Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos writes regularly about this warped science narrative[9].

 

These headlines and others like them are now resulting in a decline in vaping as the graph below demonstrates. The latest figures produced by the authoritative Smoking in England survey[10] show that e-cigarette use in England fell in 2014 from 22 to 18.6 per cent, the lowest level since the second quarter of 2013.

stats

 

Professor Robert West, said that “misleading” and “sensationalist” reports were putting smokers off switching to e-cigarettes[11]

We know from research undertaken by Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos[12] that smokers’ perceptions of risk are very far from accurately aligned with reality. This affects their smoking/vaping behaviour. In Spain a sustained period of similar misreporting of e-cigarette safety stories resulted in a 70 per cent fall in the number of vapers. These people did not just quit vaping, they went back to smoking. As Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos makes clear, it is relatively easy for a vaper to go back to being a smoker!

 

We know based on figures produced by ASH[13] that 99.9 per cent of vapers are former or existing smokers. The latest statistical bulletin from the Office for National Statistics on Adult Smoking Habits in Great Britain, 2013[14] shows that only 0.14 per cent of non-smokers use e-cigarettes.

 

When it comes to the safety of e-cigarettes it is how safe they are compared to tobacco cigarettes. We know that there is never a situation where it is better to smoke than it is to vape. All the credible evidence shows that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than tobacco cigarettes. Professor Peter Hajek, Director of the Tobacco Dependence Research Unit at Queen Mary University of London states that electronic cigarettes are five per cent of the risk of tobacco cigarettes, in other words at least 20 times safer than tobacco cigarettes[15]. As Professor John Britton 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.”[16]

 

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. It is therefore vital that media coverage of e-cigarettes is accurate and balanced.

 

 

[1] 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

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

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

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

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

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

[7] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2015-04-16-regular-e-cigarette-use-low-among-teens-analysis-suggests

[8] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3040282/Many-teenagers-try-e-cigarettes-regular-users-study-finds.html

[9] http://www.ecigarette-research.com/web/index.php

[10] http://www.smokinginengland.info/latest-statistics/

[11] The Financial Times, 03 February 2015

[12] http://www.ecigarette-research.com/research/index.php/component/k2/item/85-the-importance-of-proper-information-risk-perception-about-e-cigarettes-is-the-strongest-predictor-of-dual-use&Itemid=213

[13] http://ecigarettereviewed.com/ash-uk-survey-adds-further-evidence-that-e-cigs-dont-appeal-to-non-smokers

[14] http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/ghs/opinions-and-lifestyle-survey/adult-smoking-habits-in-great-britain–2013/stb-opn-smoking-2013.html

[15] Professor Peter Hajek speaking at the E-cigarette Summit, The Royal Society, London on the 13th of November 2014.

[16] The Independent, 29 March 2013

Open Letter to Chief Medical Officer, Wales.

Dr Ruth Hussey

 

Dear Dr Hussey,

We are writing to you in your capacity as the Chief Medical Officer for Wales about a Welsh Government funded study from Cardiff University looking at e-cigarette use amongst young people and your comments following its publication.

The Cardiff University study shows that six per cent of children aged 10 – 11 have tried an e-cigarette, so we also know that 94 per cent have not, which is good. Sadly you chose to focus on the six per cent figure rather than the 94 per cent figure.

Those six per cent of 10 – 11 year olds are reported as having tried an e-cigarette. This is important, because the key issue is not how many children are trying e-cigarettes, but how many children having tried them then go on to become regular vapers.

Recent research produced by ASH[1] demonstrated that children are not using e-cigarettes in significant numbers. The survey found 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 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. A recent study by John Moores University found that, ‘Overall seven out of eight young people had never accessed e-cigarettes’[4].

Cardiff University themselves came to the same conclusion, “E-cigarettes are popular with teens, including those who have never smoked, but few of those who try them become regular users, with most of those who do so also being smokers.”[5]

Cancer Research UK looked in detail at two major studies into e-cigarette use amongst young people in Wales, they concluded, “Looking specifically at two studies dedicated the use of e-cigarettes amongst young people in Wales only a minority of teenagers who try e-cigarettes go on to become regular users. And the majority of those who do use the devices regularly were already smokers.”[6]

You will also be aware that both the Welsh Government and the Department of Health in England have legislated to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to those under the age of 18. We have been calling for this for some time and welcomed the decision.

In conclusion, we are very aware of the Welsh Government’s proposals to ban vaping in enclosed public places throughout Wales. We note the fact that both you and the wider Welsh Government have tried to use this Cardiff University study as justification for a public vaping ban[7]. This study in no way provides any such justification.

In its approach to e-cigarettes in general 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 to public health than good.

Like you we care about evidence. All our position papers are evidence based. All our conclusions are reached after a thorough examination of the evidence. We hope that you will consider the evidence put forward in this letter and that you will think again about e-cigarettes and in particular proposals for a ban on vaping in enclosed public places.

 

Save  e-cigs.

 

 

 

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

[5] http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/news/view/93573-e-cigarette-use-among-welsh-teenagers

[6] http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-us/cancer-news/news-report/2015-04-16-regular-e-cigarette-use-low-among-teens-analysis-suggests

[7] http://gov.wales/newsroom/healthandsocialcare/2015/e-cigarette/?lang=en

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

Welsh Assembly Petition Handover Briefing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Letter to Professor Ashton

Dear Professor Ashton,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours Sincerely,
Save E-cigs

Tweets from Prof Ashton

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!