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

Manchester City Council bans e-cigarettes because of a "genuine health and safety question"

When compiling our report on the vaping policies of UK councils, one of the Freedom of Information (FoI) replies I received made me chuckle because it was so egregiously bad. I didn't include it in the main report, mainly because it was too long to put in the notes section, but I also wanted to separately highlight it. Manchester City Council, take a bow.  “Firstly there's the genuine health and safety question. It's very likely that e-cigarettes are safer than real cigarettes, as they don't contain a lot of the nasties that are known to cause significant health damage. However the manufacturers' claims that they are completely safe are premature - we don't have the data to support this claim yet. Some recent work has found evidence that 5 minutes smoking on an e-cigarette increases airway constriction and inflammation in a similar way to smoking a real cigarette. Continue reading

The Government must act now on "flawed" Tobacco Products Directive

"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