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

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