Free market leads the way in tobacco harm reduction

I attended two events in London yesterday which highlight just how much the free market is leading the way in tobacco harm reduction. The first was a reception in Strangers' Dining Room in Parliament, hosted by Philip Morris International (PMI). I was pleased to see many different senior MPs in attendance, from both sides of the House of Commons, including some Ministers and former Ministers that you wouldn’t usually expect to see at a tobacco event. That’s probably because of the big new things PMI are trying to do. For the last couple of weeks I have been evaluating PMI's new IQOS. As many reading will be aware, IQOS heats tobacco, rather than burning it, and as a result, PMI beleives that it is around 90 per cent less harmful than smoking a combustible cigarette. It has proved popular in Japan, and yesterday it went on sale in London. Anyone who doubts PMI's claims should know that they’re inviting Public Health England to check the data and come to their own conclusions as to how safe the product is, which even ASH seem to agree is a good idea. This is a wise move, as although it is insulting to say that scientists working for tobacco companies are economical with the truth when it comes to the claims that are made about new products, no-one will be able to throw that insult at scientists working for PMI.   Continue reading

Hartlepool Borough councillors' vaping ignorance on full show

In our recent report on the vaping policies of UK councils, Hartlepool Borough Council responded by saying that it "requires staff and customers to use tobacco and/or e-cigarettes off site away from entrances to buildings". I therefore wasn't surprised to read this headline in the Hartlepool Mail: "Vapers cautioned over use of electronic cigarettes".  The council's Audit and Scrutiny Committee met recently. Addressing the meeting was Carole Johnson, the council's Head of Health Improvement. She said: “All the evidence is saying they are a safer option to smoking cigarettes. We must be saying that to people because a lot of the population believe they are harmful. “We should be getting the message across that they can be a real aid to quitting smoking.” So far, so good, but then the people's elected representatives waded in with their size nines.  Councillor Rob Cook, vice chair of the committee, said: "There are conflicting stories that there is still a danger because there are carcinogenics in whatever this liquid is.” Continue reading

Thoughts from 'The E-Cigarette Summit'

I didn't know that the e-cigarette summit was taking place this week until I received an email about it on Monday evening. Many thanks to Amanda Strange, who organised the event, for allowing me media accreditation at such a late stage on Tuesday. So yesterday morning, I set-off for the Royal Society to spend a day discussing the science, regulation, and public health issues around vaping.  It was a packed programme - too packed in many ways. The breaks were curtailed because we were not keeping to time, which meant that you didn't have a chance to finish your coffee and use the lavatory. As I discovered to my cost on a couple of occasions, sacrificing the latter meant I had to leave the conference hall to answer the call of nature.  Continue reading

Freedom to Vape campaign responds to the World Health Organisation's threat of a vaping ban

On 20 September, Prof. Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England, said during an interview on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 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". The Royal College of Physicians stated earlier this year that “the hazard to health arising from long-term vapour inhalation from the e-cigarettes available today is unlikely to exceed five per cent of the harm from smoking tobacco", and UK Cancer Research has stated that it supports 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."  Continue reading

The madness of WHO and COP7

Opacity and the World Health Organisation (WHO) go together hand in hand. This has been well documented by Dick Puddlecote in his excellent blogs from the COP7 jamboree in New Delhi this week. This sight of a US reporter being dragged from the meeting by security sums it up. But what is even more annoying about WHO is the way it simply doesn't care about harm reduction.  Take a look at this tweet (retweeted by WHO) in response to a tweet from Philip Morris International (PMI):  Continue reading