Open Letter to Heidi Alexander MP

Dear Ms Alexander

Thank you for your reply regarding your thoughts on Lord Callanan’s motion.

We agree that switching to vaping can be a safe and effective way to give up smoking, and that the Government should be doing more to promote e-cigarettes as a potentially useful aid to help people quit smoking.

However, the “incredibly important changes” you refer to that were threatened by Lord Callanan’s motion, are dwarfed by the actual health improvements that a properly regulated vaping market could produce.

Are you aware that the European Commission has estimated that the Tobacco Products Directive will only “lead to a 2% drop in consumption of tobacco over a period of 5 years.”? (1) That represents 183 000 current smokers in the UK. Compare that figure to the 11.5% fall in tobacco prevalence over the last five years directly attributable to vaping: that’s 1.3M current vaping ex-smokers (2).  Electronic cigarettes, under the current regulatory regime, massively outperform all other tobacco control measures, both present and proposed, combined. Why on earth would anyone want to threaten this?

Are you also aware that whilst only 9% of current vapers (252 000 people) use strengths over 20mg/ml (3), for a new switcher that proportion is much higher (4)?

These results from a survey of 2700 experienced vapers might give you some indication of this:

Vaping Truth Survey
Vaping Truth Survey 2015 (Kevin Crowley)

As you can see, although experienced vapers can be happy on lower nicotine concentrations, for new switchers a much higher concentration is need for the switch to be successful (5). We know this because we are vapers and have lived through it. Other organisations you may hear from have a more “academic” understanding of the issues and often miss relevant points.

The 10ml bottle limit and 2ml tank size limit are of course simply pointless and ungrounded inconveniences – in fact both scientists whose research the EU used to come up with these limits complained bitterly that their results had been misunderstood and misused (6). The limits will cause some damage (as does anything that reduces the value proposition of ecigs versus cigarettes), but the real harms of the TPD lie elsewhere:

  • A less vibrant ecig market will halt the recent reductions in young adults taking up smoking (7) – this is the main and most disastrous unintended consequence of the TPD. Two thirds of smokers start when they are teenagers. At present they have a non-addictive (8) (9) and safe (10)  way to experiment. Make ecigs vastly less attractive (as the TPD will do) and they’re back to experimenting with cigarettes, which leads to smoking for many years. We all know this because we all did it.
  • It has created a piecemeal market across the EU, with some countries allowing but most banning cross border sales. This is already affecting previously thriving UK businesses.
  • It imposes absurd levels of testing on e-liquids – testing not required for cigarettes – which will massively reduce the variety of e-liquids sold, and hence the chance that a smoker will find something which they prefer to cigarettes.
  • The testing costs will be far beyond the reach of most of the UK’s hundreds of e-liquid manufacturers, shutting down promising small businesses, with the associated misery that entails.
  • The advertising restrictions shut down opportunities for smokers to find out about ecigs.
  • It adds a warning: “This product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance. It is not recommended for use by non-smokers”. This is not only scientifically illiterate (nicotine has only ever been found to be addictive when delivered via lit tobacco) but not required for other nicotine containing products on the market.
  • It promotes the false impression that ecigs are as harmful as cigarettes, preventing switching.

It is a shame the EU was seen as more important than the people who make up the EU. Politicians, by ignoring vapers, have just killed 105 000 of their constituents, across the EU, every year.(11) Thanks for that.

The Vapers in Power Team

 

1 – http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-14-134_en.htm

2 – http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_93.pdf

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

4 – http://www.nature.com/articles/srep04133

5 – http://www.tobaccopreventioncessation.com/Satisfactory-throat-hit-is-a-need-to-switch-from-tobacco-to-e-cigarette-lesson-for-an-e-liquid-blind-test,62918,0,2.html#.V07cWpzqPS0.twitter

6 – http://www.theelectroniccigarette.co.uk/blog/1729/the-eu-has-misrepresented-scientific-evidence-and-the-scientists-fight-back/

7 – http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_108.pdf

8 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25561385

9 – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3466669/

10 – http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-18

11 – http://londoneconomics.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/High_nicotine_e-cigs_ban-Feb14.pdf

 

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