Alarmist survey on teenage vaping misses the point – reaction

The BBC, GuardianTelegraph and others report on a new study, Associations between e-cigarette access and smoking and drinking behaviours in teenagers,  that “showed one in five had tried or bought e-cigarettes“.  The researchers put out a forthright press release and concluded e-cigarettes were the “alcopops of the nicotine world” and need tougher controls. Nice soundbite, but have the researchers, journal editors, peer reviewers and journalists really interpreted this survey correctly?

I think this study is being widely misunderstood or spun …It may actually may be showing something that is a good news.  Let’s examine four things that must be considered when assessing the implications of this survey – then some expert reaction and consumer reaction: Continue reading “Alarmist survey on teenage vaping misses the point – reaction”

Big Tobacco’s Little Helpers

Public health disinformation encourages regulation that protects the cigarette trade

This is a guest post by David Sweanor, Adjunct Professor of Law at University of Ottawa and lifelong public health campaigner,  Starts here…

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Comments on draft BSI standard for vaping products

Make your views known: if you aren’t at the table, you’re probably on the menu

I provided some comments on the draft British Standards PAS 54115, Manufacture, importation, testing, and labelling of vaping products (closing 30 Nov).  A PAS is an industry-led Publicly Available Standard, brokered but not imposed by the British Standards Institute, and designed to quickly set norms in an industry.  I’m broadly pretty positive about this, not least as it could give a basis for more rational regulation if the EU directive Article 20 is annulled in court, which it should be.  However, I think the current draft PAS leans towards costly overkill in some areas – we need to keep the likely risks in proportion and remember the damaging and distorting effects of subjecting these products to greater testing burdens than cigarettes.  There are many worthwhile proposals, but the excesses have been my focus in comments.

What I hope this does is open a conversation – that would be the one that was never had while the EU directive was being drafted.
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Bullying traits and public health values compared

Bullying-Banksy
Banksy sums it up (via @therealbanksy)

I know some people find the attack on vapers and vaping by elements of the public health establishment stressful and anxiety-inducing. I’m one of them, and I’m not even a vaper or smoker, whose health and wellbeing may in part be determined by what these people say and do. I think it is so stressful because the interaction has many of the traits associated with bullying.  

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Doctors, smoking and money

Puzzled male shrugging wearing lab coat
Doctors: incentivised by payments for activity

Updated 26/10. The new NHS Five Year view was published this week*.  There was much wailing about an £8 billion ‘black hole’ in the finances, and stirring exhortation about ‘Getting Serious on Prevention‘.  The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, declared he “wants a smoke-free Britain”.

Not serious to the point of recognising that 700,000 ex-smokers are vapers, and that this massive prevention effect has happened without public spending and without the public health and medical establishments doing anything (other than trying to obstruct it).  If they were truly radical, the leadership of the NHS would recognise this consumer based strategy for its enormous potential and get to work on making it happen rather than sabotage it. Oddly, the doctors’ trade union, the BMA, has taken one of the most hostile lines on vaping.  Is that a mistake? Or could there be money involved? Continue reading “Doctors, smoking and money”

Review of the FCA COP-6 position on e-cigarettes

FCA position on ENDS
Not bad. But good enough?

On 7 October 2014, the Framework Convention Alliance, the largest alliance of NGOs that attend and lobby in the WHO FCTC meetings, published its COP-6 policy brief on ENDS (e-cigarettes).  Its policy briefing sets out a position that reflects a careful navigation through the middle ground between the pro- and anti- harm reduction factions in that alliance, while basically not saying too much that is wrong or likely to cause harm. It is a real achievement that they reached agreement at all, given how polarising this issue is within that community.  The paper is a positive contribution to the negotiations and important corrective to the stance taken by WHO. Some more thoughts: Continue reading “Review of the FCA COP-6 position on e-cigarettes”

Letter to delegates to FCTC COP-6

cop6moscow
Looks lovely…  but is it?

Here’s my first open letter to delegates to the WHO FCTC COP-6 to be held in Moscow 13-18 October.  See also COP-6 resource page on Nicotine Science & Policy site.

Update 3 Oct the United States has pulled out of the meeting (see report). US is a an observer not a party, but outside the health world that will make no difference to the significance of this.  Who will attend now? Narrow minded insular WHO and the FCTC Bureau failed to recognise this political pot-hole. I think the COP6 should go ahead to avoid creating yet more waste – but it will be a tawdry meeting with questionable legitimacy. Update 11 Oct: Canada is out. Australia thinking about walking.

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The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle applied

bullshit asymmety principle
The Bullshit Asymmetry Principle

There are three problems increasingly evident in ‘tobacco control’ science when it comes to tobacco harm reduction:

  1. Contrived and phoney research designed to support pre-existing policy preferences (see previous post).
  2. Spin by scientists and activists designed to create some sort of moral panic or adverse change in risk perception out of absolutely nothing.
  3. The exhaustion of rational, fair-minded and ethical actors arising from Brandolini’s law: the bullshit asymmetry principle – see his seminal tweet.

All three drain the energy and time of real scientists, consumers and legitimate public health advocates. They distort regulatory and legislative decisions and create false perceptions of risk in the media and general public. All are evident in the following study:

Goniewicz ML, Lee L.  Electronic Cigarettes Are a Source of Thirdhand Exposure to Nicotine Nicotine and Tobacco Research 2014.

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Memo to public health grandees: vaping, vapers and you

public health
No, you keep calm

Dear Public Health Grandees (you know who you are)

I consider myself a public health advocate and, though I’m not a vaper and have never smoked, I support vaping as a tobacco harm reduction strategy, with enormous potential to reduce death and disease globally.  It’s a good approach for public health as it doesn’t require prohibitions, coercion, punitive taxes or rely on fear and it goes with the grain of behaviour and what people want. I thought it might help you if I explained what I have learned about vaping and vapers, and why your relationship with them is so poor. You can also read very articulate views from vapers about your attitude to them at the links below. Continue reading “Memo to public health grandees: vaping, vapers and you”

Appalling spin – a letter to a WHO spokesman

Original image removed at the request of WHO Legal Counsel

Updated: To say yesterday’s announcements from WHO were disappointing would rather understate the case.  The package of paper, press comment and tweets, looked at in the round was anti-scientific, unethical and harmful.  It led directly to a dreadful article in the Telegraph: ‘I thought my e-cigarette was a miracle. Turns out, I was smoking the equivalent of 40-a-day’ as an entirely foreseeable outcome of its onslaught against e-cigarettes.   It was made all the more galling by having to listen to WHO spokesman Armando Peruga on the BBC Six O’Clock Radio news talking complete nonsense.  Today I decided to write him a letter.

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