"We support a balanced approach towards nicotine containing products (NCPs) such as e-cigarettes, which maximises their potential to help people quit smoking, whilst minimising the risks of unintended consequences that could promote smoking. "We support ‘light touch’ regulation of new NCPs such as e-cigarettes, to ensure product safety and consistent dose, restrict marketing that risks re-normalising smoking, and stop them being sold to children. At present, we do not believe there is enough evidence to justify an indoor ban on e-cigarettes." They are not my words. They are the words of Cancer Research UK. I particularly like the reference to "light touch" regulation - advice that the EU did not take. I was surprised, though, to read in yesterday's Daily Mail that Cancer Research UK has criticised tobacco companies for the research they have commissioned regarding the safety of e-cigarettes. They also criticised tobacco companies for promoting vaping as a lifestyle choice, rather than a way of quitting smoking. If true, does it really make any difference? I say that from the point of view of Cancer Research UK, as my personal view is that it is up to the individual to make lifestyle choices for themselves. If people are quitting smoking, or vastly reducing the number of cigarettes they smoke by using e-cigarettes, surely the end result is more important to Cancer Research UK than the route getting there? Continue reading
A month ago I wrote about an Indian man who who faces three years behind bars for vaping and allegedly selling vaping products. The Indian Government is about as anti-vaping as you can get, no doubt taking a lead from the World Health Organisation (WHO) as it prepares to hold its COP7 Conference in Delhi in November. This is despite the mounting evidence that vaping could save millions of lives. A recent survey, however, has found that almost two-thirds of Indian smokers view e-cigarettes as a positive alternative if they could legally vape and they "met quality and safety standards, and were conveniently available". Instead of dealing effectively with the Zika Virus, WHO under the leadership of Margaret Chan would rather concentrate on making sure Indians never have the choice.
My answer to that question is a resounding no. But don't take my word for it. In this excellent piece in the Huffington Post, David Williams, President of the Taxpayers' Protection Alliance highlights that in Australia, which has been dubbed the "nanny state capital of the word", a former Labor Minister has condemned WHO for its "draconian policies and lack of transparency". And he's right. If you agree with WHO on its policies on tobacco and vaping, it will talk to you. If you disagree, you are not let through the door. Its thinking is so blinkered, it would rather destroy the vaping industry than work with all stakeholders to achieve sensible and workable tobacco harm reduction solutions. Continue reading
If, like me, you weren't listening to BBC Radio 4 at 6.50 am today, please listen to the interview with Prof. Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England. (A recording of the interview is below) He said that the NHS should continue to help people give up smoking using a range of methods and went on to describe e-cigarettes as "the number one quit aid". When he was questioned about vaping bans, he said now that the evidence is evolving and we know more, now is the time for us to look at our policies to ensure that we are not sending out mixed messages, or creating circumstances that can actually keep smokers smoking. Although I may not agree with Prof. Fenton on everything, he gets it, which is more than can be said about the World Health Organisation.
An interesting report on the website of the American Council on Science and Health. A new study asked the question: what exactly happens to the lungs when someone stops smoking and starts vaping? Here is the methodology and results: The participants’ lung function (spirometry indices) as well as reported symptoms (coughing/phlegm, wheezing, chest pressure, and shortness of breath) were recorded at baseline and subsequent visits. The follow-up period was 1 year. At the end of the study period, the authors stratified the final participants into three groups based on their final smoking status: Quitters: completely abstained from smoking Reducers: cut back their daily cigarettes Failures: were unable to do either When spirometry data was analyzed across the 3 groups, large airway function (FEV1, FVC, FEV1/FVC) was not impacted by smoking abstinence or reduction. What was seen, however, was significant improvement in small, peripheral airway function (FEF 25-75%) in those who completely quit smoking. This improvement was from 85.7±15.6% at baseline to 100.8±14.6% at 1 year, as a percentage what is predicted to be normal. The most common symptoms reported by participants were cough/phlegm (43%), and shortness of breath (34.8%). At the end of the study period, there was progressive improvement, and eventually, complete resolution of these symptoms not only in the “quitter” but also the “reducer” group. This benefit was not realized by the “failure” group. The study results suggest that completely abstaining from combustible cigarettes may benefit even healthy smokers reverse some subtle lung changes. In those struggling to quit smoking, even reducing exposure to daily cigarette smoke can have a measurable impact on quality of life. Is the World Health Organisation listening? It should be. The evidence just keep mounting up that vaping is vastly better for your health, but don't expect to hear much of that at the COP7 conference in Delhi in November.