Category Archives: Statement

Worrying behaviour by Action on Smoking and Health

Vapers in Power notes with concern – and disapproval – that Action on Smoking and Health continues to oppose the replacement of the EU’s inappropriate rules on electronic cigarettes with a new regulatory framework that’s actually fit for purpose. Despite repeated attempts to explain to ASH exactly why the TPD and its UK implementation are ill-advised and harmful restrictions based on misrepresented science, they persist in their support for it.

It should now be clear to everyone that ASH’s backing for the EU’s punitive approach to vaping is not merely down to a failure to understand the harm it causes. The reality is that ASH fully support this approach. They are not on our side; they simply view us as a convenient stick to beat the tobacco industry with. It goes without saying that people who do this are rarely worried about the welfare of the stick.

We note with even more concern that ASH’s chief executive, Deborah Arnott, sits at the centre of tobacco control in the UK and has a great deal of influence internationally. This is especially worrying in light of Ms Arnott’s well-known intolerance of disagreement.

Vaping advocates who have attempted to engage with ASH feel severely constrained in what they can say, out of fear that disagreeing too openly with Ms Arnott will result in their access to public health discussions being restricted. It is now clear that consumer advocates are not the only ones Arnott sees as legitimate targets for the application of pressure.

Yesterday Lisa McNally, a public health consultant with Bracknell Council, posted a tweet critical of the latest ASH anti-smoking campaign. Ms McNally is not an employee of ASH. She is under no obligation whatsoever to refrain from criticising a campaign run by a charity if she disagrees with that campaign. Nevertheless, this morning, she received an “angry call” from Arnott, who apparently feels entitled to harass public sector employees who displease her.

truemcnally-arnott-complaint

Given Arnott’s prominence in the tobacco control field, her extensive access to politicians and the substantial government funding she receives, this revelation of her methods should be of grave concern to every stakeholder in public health. How much opposition to harm reduction and proportionate legislation is driven, not by principle or objective study of the evidence, but by pressure applied behind the scenes by Arnott?

Vapers in Power call for a halt to all public funding of ASH, and the withdrawal of Deborah Arnott’s access to the Houses of Parliament and any parliamentary committee or working group, until proper mechanisms have been put in place to stop her harassing and bullying those who dare to disagree with her.

Advertisements

Vapers in Power are enraged by the updated “position statement” from Public Health Wales.

The latest statement on the use of vaping products by Public Health Wales is a grotesque bundle of idealistic wishes which remove the personal freedoms of vapers and those smokers who look to switch from smoking.

The entire document is riddled with ancient arguments revolving around “might”, “could” (and not forgetting “children”) and shows that PHW have failed to keep up-to-date with the continually published research.

We believe that PHW  are now attempting to tighten the screw in a way that the previous Welsh Government Public Health Bill would be proud of. This is unacceptable!

We cannot share any stance that PHW offers in regards to e-liquid flavouring bans. There are many tens of thousands of vapers in Wales who use a multitude of flavours to maintain a harm reduced lifestyle. Restricting “confectionery” type flavours will remove a significant choice of products that can work for smokers to switch and keep vapers vaping. This will put a massive halt on Welsh tobacco harm reduction.

Not only do Welsh vapers have to cope with the monstrosity of the Tobacco Products Directive with regards to product availability, lack of awareness-raising of a harm reduction product and reduced nicotine level but if PHW get their way, vapers and smokers will once more be shut out.

PHW want to see voluntary indoor bans (they call it “restrictions”) just like the previous Welsh Assembly Government Public Health Bill and specific outdoor bans on vaping. This is utterly preposterous! The evidence is clear that the harm of vapour from any vaping product is vastly reduced in comparison to smoking and risk of harm to bystanders is negligible.

PHW shoot themselves in the foot in this statement. They contacted one of our advocate members and said “Organisationally we are now advocating a 100% switch to e-cigarettes for committed smokers and recognising the role they could have for those on a quit journey” and this is backed up by references to the Cochrane review and the RCP report. However, the remainder of the statement is full of WHO smelling anti-vaping rubbish, the statement may as well have not bothered trying to strike balance.

UK Local Councils Need To Wake Up!

Vapers in Power is shocked by the Freedom to Vape report which finds that 85% of UK councils are ignoring Public Health England’s advice on vaping.

It is high time that local councils all across the UK wake up, smell the evidence on vaping and apply it to their current “Smoke Free” policies for their own work-spaces.

We are horrified that nearly 90% of councils highlighted in the report have shoehorned vaping into their no smoking policies as if they are identical. We know that vaping is not smoking and it is not the way to go to improve the overall health of current vapers on any council staff roster and any vaping visitors to the offices.

We are concerned that councils are not acting on Public Health England’s guidance and aren’t pursuing an evidence based policy

Disturbing highlights from the source data of the report include:

“Calderdale Council supports the aim of “de-normalising” smoking. The Council supports the tobacco control professionals who consider that the acceptance of e-cigarettes will undermine the now widely accepted view that smoking is unacceptable.”

“The Council’s rationale for prohibiting the use of electronic cigarettes is that, although they do not produce smoke, electronic cigarettes produce a vapour that could provide an annoyance or health risk to other employees.[THERE IS NO HEALTH RISK!]  In addition to this, some electronic cigarette models can, particularly from a distance, look like real cigarettes, making the enforcement of a smoke free environment difficult to police, and creating an impression for visitors/customers/other employees that it is acceptable to smoke within the workplace.” – Chelmsford Borough Council

“Local authority staff should not smoke e-cigarettes indoors or whilst on duty as this may give a misleading impression and it does not support the council’s aim of ‘de-normalising’ smoking.” – Stockport Met Borough Council

 

All current council policies need a swift evidence based update. Stockport Met last reviewed their policy in January 2015, Chelmsford in April 2014 but Pembrokeshire have not done so since November 2013! This is unacceptable! Any local council have responsibility to improve the health of the public. Many of the councils that responded to Freedom to Vape’s FOI are clearly not doing so.

The report shows that a staggering 1 in 3 local councils require their vaping members of staff or visitors to use the same area designated for smoking.. Forcing vapers into designated smoking areas completely undermines the individual vapers who have taken a choice to become smoke free.

Demonising the use of a 95% safer avenue of nicotine use, shows that the majority of these councils are clearly out of touch with modern society and do not have a harm reduction mindset.

However, Vapers in Power  commends the action of the London Borough of Enfield. We are delighted to see that this local council has decided to take an evidence based approach in line with Public Health England evidence update and the Royal College of Physicians report  and do not plan to include vaping in their smoking policies. This is a position we encourage all other local councils within the UK to take.



 

Reaction to ASH news release 16 May 2016

 

ASH’s lack of concern for 200,000 vapers is staggering

In response to: http://www.ash.org.uk/media-room/press-releases/:new-eu-rules-on-nicotine-strength-not-a-problem-for-most-vapers

ASH’s lack of concern for the 200,000 vapers who use eliquid that will be banned is staggering. Higher strengths are used mainly by new vapers and dual-fuellers: in other words, by smokers who may be trying to give up. Not to mention future smokers that might try ecigs as an alternative. The very people ASH should be most concerned about. Higher strengths are needed to get over the initial hurdle of switching. It’s the throat hit that matters at that point – nothing to do with nicotine dependence.  ASH’s suggestion to supplement nicotine with patches completely misses the point.

Of course, ASH have form on underplaying the appalling nature of the TPD, a law that will kill people (some say up to 105 000 a year 1). Their recent “fact”sheet 2 on the impact of the TPD ignores the costs to vaping businesses (mostly small, independent, family and friend affairs) of the onerous testing regime. Costs which have been estimated to be ~£3000 per product, way above the £150 notification fee which is all ASH sees fit to mention.

We have to wonder why they are getting this so disastrously wrong when it is clear that including ecigs in the TPD will cause harm.

Lord Callanan says: “this was argued for by the pharmaceutical industry, which would have an awful lot to lose if e-cigarettes supplanted or replaced nicotine patches and gum” 3. He should know, he was there when it was being drafted.

Why are ASH suggesting it will be fine?

This is what some real people who will be affected by the TPD have to say:

Jill Baldwin (Gloucestershire): “As an ex 60 a day cigarette smoker, 24mg/ml was my life saver. A limit of 20mg/ml will stop some people from quitting cigarettes”.

Mark Magenis (Chelmsford): “In the cheaper devices many smokers still struggle at 24mg, this law demands those that do to make a bigger investment, to get high power devices, which is a leap of faith the most addicted smokers are reluctant to make”.

Liam Bryan (Bristol): “The limits on the concentration of nicotine allowed are more to do with nobbling vaping than protecting users – I’ll be ordering from abroad and hoping the package isn’t stopped. I make my eliquid myself, a safe and cost-effective practice. The TPD stops me doing that, it turns me into a criminal”.

Rhydian Mann (Swansea): “If I didn’t have access to 2.4% and 3.6% nicotine liquid I wouldn’t have been able to do so. I still use those concentrations during times of stress. Under TPD,the easiest option to get my nicotine fix will be a cigarette and I will certainly take that avenue if needs be”.

Lisa Kirkham (Hartlepool): “Outrageous and one of the incentives to switch was the cost and the strength. I did not feel deprived as it was a perfect replacement for tobacco. I don’t believe them for one second when they say it’s for safety. Corrupt liars and it’s all about money!”

Gareth Witty (Windsor): “The TPD is not a protecting rule but rather an underhand deal to try and give Vaping to the tobacco and pharma industry due to illegal deals and should not be recognised by any country”.

Lee Woolls (Cardiff): “The 2% maximum nicotine level is an attempt to make these products ineffective. The pharmaceutical lobbyists certainly earned their money that day. Shame on EU!”

Scott Gregory: “The only explanation for the results of the survey is that ASH are either asking the wrong questions, or the wrong people. It is not about those that currently vape, it is about those smokers that have yet to switch and how they manage to successfully transition”.

Kevin Crowley (USA): “Restriction on levels of nicotine is like limiting water to a fish. Current / future vapers should not be limited on nicotine levels, as it is the most important part of reducing tobacco with vaping products”.

Jamie Hollywood (North Lanarkshire): “The 20mg limit will be 1 of the barriers that stops people being able to make the switch from tobacco smoking successfully.  A lot of people won’t get a strong enough nicotine hit, thereby going back to smoking”.

Robert Jenkins (Cardiff): “I started vaping with 24mg Nicotine because it was a close match to tobacco. I truly believe if I had been limited to a lower nicotine dose I would still be smoking. Household bleach is not limited to 10ml bottles so why should E Liquid be?  It  makes no sense”.

Darren Stone: “10ml bottle will increase production costs (especially with them now having to be sealed nozzles, plus labeling is not really big enough to get all the warnings on. Plastic bottles now won’t be recyclable as can’t be washed out and will still have a small bit of nic in them (environment issue). I started on 24mg under the tpd the 20mg limit might not have been enough to get me off tobacco. 2ml tank size is just a ball ache which leads to ever more refilling for a lot of people. The fact you can’t advertise a product which gets people off tobacco whist not costing the tax payer anything still amazes me”.

Ben Parr (Leeds): “From first hand experience of managing a vape store for a few years, I still have customers who rely on 30mg and above as they don’t won’t a box mod and are still happy with there pen style, plus the 20mg max strength is going to make it hard for 30 a day plus smokers to switch, and believe me there are quite a few”.

Christina May (W Australia): “If these new regulations were in place,I would NEVER have been able to quit smoking after 47 years and to be frank I would still be incontinent. 2 yrs and 2 months of vaping and I am a new woman. And yes you may publish my name. I can sleep in peace at night now without coughing my guts up”.

Paul Barnes (Essex):

20mg/ml limit
For some vapers, the imposed limits will be more of an inconvenience than a problem. However, we mustn’t forget that the vast proportion of vapers don’t frequent vape stores, forums and social media and are most likely on “older” hardware that necessitates the use of higher strength liquids. These are the ones that will be most affected. The limit will also have a negative impact on those dual using or looking to switch, as lower strengths may not provide the satisfaction those users need.
2ml Tank Size
For many vapers this does pose a problem – lower nicotine strengths and more efficient devices do need a larger tank size to be convenient. Regular refills can be troublesome and in most cases carrying additional liquid for this purpose is simply not convenient. This won’t necessarily affect me directly in the immediate future, but will in the long term as the tanks I use regularly end up being phased out of the market.
Cost Increase
For the everyday vaper this will have a large impact as one of the primary reasons vaping is so popular is the fact that it is relative inexpensive compared to tobacco. Narrowing this benefit will likely have one of two effects – users will end up weening themselves off vaping altogether as costs increase, or they could end up (especially the newer users) relapsing back to their old habit. These products need to be cost efficient for the user to be attractive as an alternative to smoking”.

Debbie Traynor (Grantham, Lincs):
“Whilst technology has advanced and many devices are more efficient at delivering vapour/nicotine they are still many users who rely on strengths higher the 2% to divert their attention from combustible tobacco. When lower nicotine strengths tend to go hand in had with more powerful devices – it stands to reason, therefore, that larger bottles and greater strengths of nicotine need to be available to accommodate the varying needs of individuals depending on whatever is required to keep them off traditional cigarettes. Users of high powered devices may be satisfied with lower nicotine strengths but there has to be consideration for the remaining millions of smokers who need to be encouraged to make the switch. We cannot have a closed door policy, where only those who have already made the switch are the only users to be taken into consideration.
Tank size- huge mention has been made (and vastly exaggerated) over the potential hazards of some filling mechanisms; if this is the case why are users being encouraged to refill more often. If larger tanks remain available surely this would be considered ‘damage limitation’.
The limit of container size for E liquid is ridiculous, it is unwarranted as it offers no risk reduction and would only serve to increase cost of transportation and manufacture, increased waste and cost to the end user.
All of the restrictions combined will limit availability of this technology and encourage smokers back to tobacco which is easily available. I, personally haven’t had a cigarette in nearly four years, vaping has been the only long term solution for my being smoke free. Before discovering this technology I had tried every conceivable method of smoking cessation with very little success. I was so amazed at the ease of switching to vaping I wanted to encourage others, which is what lead to my opening a shop”.

Colin Hawkins (Stoke on Trent):

“Smoked up to 40 a day for around 30 years, tried every type of quitting mechanism, hypnosis, gum, patches and nothing worked for more than a couple of weeks, started vaping 4 years ago and have not touched a cigarettte since, massive health improvements as well.”

 

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

2 – http://ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_1011.pdf

3 – https://hansard.digiminster.com/Lords/2016-05-10/debates/16051044000179/TobaccoAndRelatedProductsRegulations2016

 

Nottinghamshire, Beacon of Fear

Vapers in Power are incensed by Nottinghamshire County Council’s decision to ban employees from using e-cigarettes in its buildings, land and company vehicles (1) . E-cigarettes are used by many to stop smoking and the scientific consensus is that they are at least 95% safer than combustible tobacco (2).

We regard the Council’s actions as inappropriate with regards to smoking but we are particularly concerned by the inclusion of vaping and e-cigarettes in the ban.

This ban will deter people from switching to a far safer alternative and also sends out the false  message that vaping is harmful.

We are also concerned that we have seen no justification from the Council for this ban so we can only assume that it’s lazy policy making: a knee jerk reaction to something which they don’t understand.

As Public Health England noted (2) “increasing numbers of people think e-cigarettes are equally or more harmful than smoking”. Steps like this can only compound that misconception.

Nottinghamshire County Council are part of the Smoke Free Action Coalition (3) yet the inclusion of e-cigarettes in the new Nottinghamshire County Council Smoke Free Policy is not in keeping with the advice given by this coalition on e-cigarettes and their use for harm reduction. (4)

The Smoke Free Action Coalition clearly recommends that organisations consider the following information when considering e-cigarette policy:

  • Real-world effectiveness of e-cigarettes when used to aid smoking cessation: a cross-sectional population study a paper by Robert West regarding e-cigarettes as harm reduction and their effectiveness in quitting smoking (5)
  • Ash Factsheet 891 regarding who uses e-cigarettes and why they use them (6)
  • Ash Factsheet 715 regarding the basics about e-cigarettes and their risks for users, bystanders and the ‘gateway’ effect (7)

 

The Smoke Free Policy of Nottinghamshire County Council has clearly failed to take this information into account with regards to e-cigarettes.

We should also be clear that e-cigarettes are not included in the UK Smoking at Work legislation (8)

We can only conclude that this ban is yet another example of an organisation shaping their policies on fear rather than facts.

We call on Nottinghamshire County Council to re-assess their misguided policy.

E-cigarettes save lives, bans risk them.

 

References

 

  1. http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/DMS/Document.ashx
  2. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/457102/Ecigarettes_an_evidence_update_A_report_commissioned_by_Public_Health_England_FINAL.pdf
  3. http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/index.html
  4. http://www.smokefreeaction.org.uk/ElectCigs.html
  5. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.12623/abstract
  6. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_891.pdf
  7. http://www.ash.org.uk/files/documents/ASH_715.pdf
  8. https://www.gov.uk/smoking-at-work-the-law

 

Open Letter to all members of the Welsh Assembly HSCC

This is an open letter sent to all members of the Welsh Assembly Health and Social Care Committee. This letter was sent electronically on Tuesday 26th January 2016.

Dear HSCC Members

I am writing as the Welsh Campaign Manager for Vapers in Power, a registered political party established to provide a voice for e-cigarette users. I call upon you to do the right thing for the health of Welsh citizens by supporting any amendments to the Public Health (Wales) Bill which require that e-cigarettes are entirely removed from the Bill.

You may have seen reports[1] of the Minister’s intention to propose amendments to ban use of e-cigarettes in places “where potential risk to children is greatest”.

prick

Now that the Minister’s amendments have been tabled it is apparent that the list of places where e-cigs are banned would not form part of the main bill  but would be subject to separate regulation. It is my understanding that this will make it much easier to change in the future.  I  am very concerned that whilst this removes the major barrier to getting the bill passed it will allow the democratic process to be circumvented and enable tighter restrictions to be arbitrarily applied at a later date.

You will be aware of Kirsty Williams’ amendments (supported by Darren Millar) to effectively remove electronic cigarettes from the Bill altogether. I strongly urge you to support these amendments because:

  • These proposals have been fraught with controversy from the outset and have had little public support; as evidenced by two recent newspaper polls Wales Online[2] (79% oppose) and the Daily Post[3] (79% oppose).
  • There are now an estimated 242,000[4] vapers in Wales whose lives could be adversely affected by this bill. For a proportion of them (and their family and friends) this will be a key issue in the May elections.
  • The Minister’s proposals would have dire economic consequences. Wales entered the e-cig market at its inception. The industry has provided employment in manufacturing and marketing:  Jobs that should not be jeopardised by intervention based on a “gateway” theory that has no credible evidence to support it and much evidence suggesting it doesn’t exist[5].   Jobs in the e-cig industry are well-founded on a sustainable and expanding (at the moment) base and not dependant upon the vagaries of foreign or incoming firms. They have also cost nothing in subsidies from the Welsh Assembly. Many S.M.E.s will be forced to close if smokers return to tobacco use, which would be the logical outcome of the proposed bans.

 

E-cig vapour has been shown time and again to have no demonstrable effect on others and minimal (if any) harmful effect on the user[7]. Banning the use of these devices in indoor (and potentially some outside) spaces would damage public health. The potential unintended consequences include:

  • Sending out the erroneous message that using electronic cigarettes is as harmful as smoking and thus deterring cigarettes smokers from switching.
  • Putting those that have stopped smoking at risk by forcing them to occupy the same spaces as smokers. It is an appalling law that proposes to send someone addicted to a combination of chemicals which they are trying to quit out to stand with the users of the thing they are trying to quit from.
  • Deterring cigarette smokers from taking up vaping (many people start vaping because it’s permitted in more areas than smoking).

Could this bill jeopardise the most popular method of quitting smoking?

Trends in ecigarette use in England Dec 2015_v2

This graph is taken from the Smoking in England ‘latest trends’ published
on 11th January 2016 and clearly shows the popularity of electronic
cigarettes against other quit methods.

I note that discussions with stakeholders have excluded the key group from the process:  vapers. I urge every AM prior to voting at the next plenary stage to meet with some of their vaping constituents. I  also (in the interests of good governance and transparency) call for a meeting to be organised by HSCC at the Senedd with vapers to redress this anomaly.  Vapers in Power would be happy to facilitate this.

Wales took a great deal of pride in being the first of the Home Nations to ban smoking in public places and received the plaudits for doing so. Surely you do not wish for Wales to be seen as taking retrograde steps in harm reduction by not supporting the safer alternative to smoking?

I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with you further, you can contact me by using the following email rhydian@vapersinpower.co.uk or leave a message on my phone [phone number omitted for privacy reasons]

Yours sincerely,

Rhydian Mann

Welsh Campaign Manager

Vapers In Power

 

[1] http://www.itv.com/news/wales/2015-12-08/mark-drakeford-says-hes-going-to-amend-the-public-health-bill-to-define-areas-where-e-cigarettes-should-be-banned/

[2] http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/news-opinion/great-vape-debate-should-e-10711554#comments-section

[3] http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/nigel-farage-slates-welsh-government-10721151

[4] http://100thousand.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/E-Opinion-Poll-Results.pdf (page 11, Table 4)

[5] http://gov.wales/docs/statistics/2015/151007-welsh-health-survey-assessing-impact-change-physical-activity-questions-introduction-questions-e-cigarette-use-2015-en.pdf

[6] http://www.ecita.org.uk/ecita-blog/assessing-potential-impact-unintended-consequences-vaping-ban-wales

[7] http://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1471-2458-14-18

[8] http://www.smokinginengland.info/downloadfile/?type=sts-documents&src=25 (slide 14)