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?”
The 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.
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?”
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”
When 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?”