Where is the humility? Where is the empathy?

He gets it, why can’t the public health establishment?

With the approach of 2014 and New Year resolutions under negotiation, my thoughts and good wishes turn to all those smokers out there who would like to stop smoking – as in stop inhaling burning particles of organic matter and hot toxic gases deep into the lungs. I hope they give vaping a try.  An e-cig is working well for my brother and I’m really glad about that – he’s smoked for about 30 years and has never intended to stop, but this has all but ended his smoking over the last nine months. Not good enough for MHRA, Brussels, WHO and CR-UK of course, but he’s pleased, and so am I.  It reminds me that there are great stories about e-cigs, about personal triumphs, lives transformed and people getting back in control.  I love these stories.

But there is a striking contrast between the often moving, thrilling and visceral human stories told by vapers and the attitude and language of the bossy bureaucrats and fake experts in public health who claim to know better. I ask where is the humility?  Where is the empathy? Some examples from them, and then we can contrast these with the words of vapers: Continue reading “Where is the humility? Where is the empathy?”

Making sense of the proposed new e-cigarette regulations

See my guest post on saveecigs: Making sense of the proposed new e-cigarette regulations

Tobacco harm reduction – a note to WHO’s expert commitee

envelope2The WHO Study Group on Tobacco Product Regulation ‘TobReg‘ is meeting in Rio de Janeiro 4-6 December.  This group is important – or it will be if WHO listens to it and acts on its advice. Its previous reports have added to understanding and pointed the way to a rational approach to regulating reduced risk tobacco and nicotine products.  However, there are rumours that WHO finds its advice unwelcome and its account of the truths inconvenient, and would like to replace it with working groups from the parties to the FCTC.  I hope that does not happen.

So I would like to write a note to the TobReg to encourage it to keep up its good work, and to keep the focus on the billion deaths WHO expects to be caused by smoking in the 21st Century.   Continue reading “Tobacco harm reduction – a note to WHO’s expert commitee”

E-cigarettes in the tobacco products directive – letter to European Commission

Letter to European Commission (sent in Oct 2013, added here Feb 2014) Continue reading “E-cigarettes in the tobacco products directive – letter to European Commission”

Tobacco Products Directive – what next?

Complicated? The Ordinary Legislative Procedure

We are approaching make or break time of the revision of the Tobacco Products Directive – the ‘first reading’ of the proposal is coming up. Here’s my take on the process.

What is the overall process? The TPD is following the ‘Ordinary Legislative Procedure‘. This is a process whereby the European Commission makes a proposal and then the European Parliament (elected MEPs) and European Council (representatives of 28 member state governments) go through a process of amending the Commission proposal and reaching agreement with each other. By the end of the process, Parliament and Council must agree or it doesn’t pass. The process has three stages in which views are batted back and forth between the two institutions: Continue reading “Tobacco Products Directive – what next?”

Reasonable people saying sensible things about low-risk alternatives to smoking (update)

Nicotine molecule
Warning: nicotine may induce authoritarian urges, warped judgements and loss of purpose

Updated 24 July 2013. Smokeless tobacco products, e-cigarettes and novel nicotine products have astonishing potential to reduce the expected one billion premature deaths from tobacco in the 21st Century.   Yet some health organisations are spreading misinformation, stoking up unwarranted fears and pretending there is much more risk and uncertainty than there really is.  So to provide some balance here is a collection of on-the-record quotes from researchers, experts and others who have grasped the important and disruptive significance of these developments. Enjoy!   Continue reading “Reasonable people saying sensible things about low-risk alternatives to smoking (update)”

The case for regulating e-cigarettes as medicines

doctorWhat do the supporters of medicines regulation for e-cigs say, and why are they wrong?

It’s quite hard to actually find a coherent case for regulating e-cigarettes as medicines.  Mostly those making the case show it can be done, but do not show it is the best thing to do or compare it to lower cost, lighter touch alternatives – see the MHRA work on nicotine. But the essence of good policy making is options appraisal, not simply justifying the only thing you know about.  I have already said quite a bit about the problems of medicines regulations: see 10 reasons not to regulate e-cigarettes as medicines and medicines regulation: when caution can kill, and a briefing on the legal aspects: are e-cigarettes medicines? But I thought it might be useful to examine the arguments used by those claiming regulation of e-cigarettes is the only way to go one at a time. Continue reading “The case for regulating e-cigarettes as medicines”

Call to arms on e-cigarettes in the European Parliament (updated)


Take action: join the Brussels Vape In 10 July at the European Parliament !!  

I did a recent full update on where we are with the tobacco products directive – this posting is a further update to that.  We are now in a crucial period before the ENVI committee vote on 10/11 July and it’s time to get busy… ask MEPs on the  committee to reject medicines regulation as excessive and inappropriate, and to support regulation for e-cigarettes that provides enough confidence in safety and quality but most importantly does not impose so much red tape, costs and restrictions that it kills off the appeal of the products to smokers. Continue reading “Call to arms on e-cigarettes in the European Parliament (updated)”

MEPs – 10 things to think about before you vote


On 10/11 July, MEPs of the ENVI committee will take an important step towards finalising the text of a new Tobacco Products Directive.  If the preparation and voting goes well thousands of amendments and opinions will be honed into a single coherent legislative text to be presented to the European Parliament plenary in September. The process is a bewilderingly complex negotiation, but the successful MEPs will have a clear view of what they are trying to do and what matters. So I have  written to set out 10 things they should really think about before they vote. Continue reading “MEPs – 10 things to think about before you vote”

E-cigarettes are unregulated, right?

wrongWhen the UK Medicines Regulator (MHRA) consulted in 2010 on whether e-cigarettes should be regulated as medicines, it gave three options: I summarise the first two and quote the third:
Option 1. Regulate as medicines and withdraw unlicensed products in 21 days
Option 2. Regulate as medicines and withdraw unlicensed products in a year (June 2011)
Option 3. “Do nothing and allow these unregulated products containing nicotine that have not been assessed for safety, quality and efficacy to remain on the market.” [emphasis mine]

See what they did there…? It’s either medicines regulation or ‘unregulated’. We call this framing bias – and they were rightly criticised for it.  But the idea persists that e-cigs are unregulated, and it is the reason why some people think they should be regulated as medicines.   In reality, there is very little in the European Union that is ‘unregulated’. Most products fall under general consumer protection legislation. Here is a selection of the key EU directives and regulations that already apply (or could be applied) to e-cigarettes and other non-medicinal nicotine containing products: Continue reading “E-cigarettes are unregulated, right?”