October 14th, 2016

Louise Ross: E-cigarette samples - a legitimate way of helping people to switch?


Guest post from Louise Ross,  Manager of the Leicester e-cig friendly Stop Smoking Service. (@grannylouisa)

Faced with a patient who has had a cancer diagnosis, who smokes but rejects any attempt to discuss stopping smoking, what should a stop smoking advisor do? >> read the full post

October 11th, 2016

First build your echo chamber - how WHO excludes dissent and diversity


Most international treaties welcome observers and diversity of opinion. Not the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, which has its next major Conference of the Parties on 7-12 November 2016, in Delhi.  The WHO carefully choose who it allows to observe its secretive proceedings, ensuring only organisations that agree with it are admitted as observers. It betrays the intellectual void at the heart of the WHO and its treaty – it simply cannot cope with scrutiny, challenge or reconciling other interests or constraints. A comparison with the approach to observers taken by the UN convention governing climate change is instructive… >> read the full post

October 2nd, 2016

New Nicotine Alliance calls for repeal of EU e-cigarette regulation and snus ban


New Nicotine Alliance proposes that the forthcoming Great Repeal Act is used to repeal pointless, burdensome and restrictive EU regulation of e-cigarettes and to lift the illegal, unethical and anti-scientific ban on snus.  This may be a ‘quick win’ from Brexit at the point of the departure of the UK from the EU.  The government will need to show that there are at least some benefits.

The Great Repeal Act will not actually repeal that much of substance. It will mainly just convert the vast body of EU law that applies in the UK to domestic law. But there is scope for some crowd-pleasing repeals of especially poor regulation, of which the TPD provisions related to tobacco harm reduction are the most obvious candidate.

Here is the NNA letter to Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt.  >> read the full post

October 1st, 2016

Anatomy of a public health tweet

Capewell Tweet 30 Sept 2016

Professor Capewell is worried – but why?

Professor Simon Capewell, the Vice President of Health Policy at the Faculty of Public Health, states in a tweet on 30 September 2016.

Vaping adverts could lead children to try smoking cigarettes

But how true is that? And how much care did Professor Capewell take to ensure that it is a reasonable thing to say? Let us examine:

  1. How wrong is Professor Capewell’s tweet?
  2. How much blame is attributable to the study authors?
  3. In conclusion: what should we make of this tweet?

>> read the full post

September 25th, 2016

The wilful ignorance of tobacco control McCarthyites


Just when you thought public health could sink no lower, it pulls it off again! This time, a couple of “tobacco control” organisations, CTFK and ENSP, have been writing to several participants in a conference (GTNF 2016) to be held next week. The letters tell them they must be mistaken, that they can’t possibly have realised tobacco companies were involved and that they should pull out before it is too late.  All backed with a threat of reputational damage if they don’t. I find this deeply depressing and disturbing. Let’s take a look at:

>> read the full post

September 13th, 2016

You want a debate about nicotine? Let's have one. Letter to Mitch Zeller, America's chief vape regulator

FDA is ‘anti-proportionate’ in its approach to smoking and vaping

A recent article in the New York Times (A Lobbyist Wrote the Bill. Will the Tobacco Industry Win Its E-Cigarette Fight?) falsely suggested that opposition to FDA’s deeming rule for e-cigarettes is all about tobacco industry interests. It quoted Mitch Zeller of the FDA on the e-cigarette industry. Zeller is the federal official responsible for regulation of vaping and tobacco products in the United States (see my Bluffer’s Guide). It struck many of us that this was a hostile and one-sided statement that sits uneasily with Zeller’s call for a debate about nicotine just 16 months ago. So we have written to Director Zeller making seven observations in response to his quote in the NYT.

  1. The growth in e-cigarette use – a threat or a threat disruptor?
  2. The dramatic decline in adolescent smoking
  3. The (in)frequency of adolescent e-cigarette use
  4. The limited use of nicotine by adolescent vapers
  5. The situation with fires and explosions
  6. The trends in adult smoking
  7. FDA’s approach is “anti-proportionate”

Here’s the letter, jointly from me and Eli Lehrer at the R Street Institute, an American think-tank. >> read the full post

August 31st, 2016

When you thought public health could go no lower - it just did


Except that is wrong in every way

The news coverage:

British newspapers, the main domestic vector of the anti-scientific public health dogma and baseless fear-mongering, were yesterday filled with prominently positioned garbage articles about vaping:

Not one single element of these headlines has any grounding in reality, and all are grossly misleading.  The contributory negligence or cynicism of journalists in reporting vaping health stories is now commonplace.  However, in this discussion, I would like to focus on the extraordinary negligence of the scientist behind these claims. >> read the full post

August 12th, 2016

Telegraph science editor Sarah Knapton puts the record straight. Not really.

One irresponsible scientist said this – enough for a headline at The Telegraph

I was recently contacted by Sarah Knapton, Science Editor at the Daily Telegraph, asking me to set the record straight on the criticism she had received following an article on vaping, not least on this site from me.  There had been a formal complaint about her article, and she was asking me to publish the result – complaint rejected.  In the post below, I publish the IPSO findings (as she requested) and the email exchange that followed, which I hope puts these findings in context.  >> read the full post

August 9th, 2016

FDA shoots itself in the foot, cigarette trade celebrates, public health loses - a summary in two quotes

A typical day at the FDA Center For Tobacco Products

The FDA’s deeming rule went live yesterday, 8th August 2016. You will see a blizzard of expert comment about what it all means (feel the pain of Phil Bursado – see 8/8).  In essence, FDA requires an enormously burdensome Pre-Market Tobacco Application (PMTA) to be filed and accepted by FDA for any new product from now on. So that’s the end of innovation, including pro-health and pro-safety innovation. For all products currently on the market, a PMTA has to be filed within two years, with a further year for FDA to review – that will wipe out most products and most smaller firms and open the way to the black market. (For the official view, see FDA overview and Q&A)

When thinking about this regulation from a public health point of view, there are two quotes I think everyone should have in mind: >> read the full post

July 4th, 2016

A strong case to overturn the EU snus ban - 10 reasons why legal action should succeed this time

snus prohibition

Unscientific, unethical and unlawful EU snus ban


Good news confirmed today: Swedish Match, the main European snus manufacturer, will take legal action to overturn the European Union ban on snus -see Reuters 1 July 2016: Swedish Match to challenge EU snus ban in UK court. This ban is possibly the most absurd and harmful piece of legislation the European Union has ever concocted, and its demise is long overdue.

The EU snus ban was introduced in 1992 (directive 92/41/EEC) and reaffirmed in 2001 (2001/37/EC) and reaffirmed again in 2014 in the Tobacco Products Directive 2014/40/EU Article 17. The ban only exists because of posturing by self-indulgent and negligent politicians backed by prohibitionist harm-inducing NGOs.  It has no scientific, ethical or legal justification whatsoever (see Death by regulation: the EU ban on low-risk oral tobacco) and can only be causing harm to health by denying smokers elsewhere in Europe benign alternatives to smoking that work so well in Sweden.

In 2003, Swedish Match challenged the identical ban in the previous Tobacco Products Directive 2001/37/EC (Article 8) and failed. See Case C-210/03 before the ECJ. However, a great deal has changed since then and even in 2003/4 I think they were unlucky to face a politicised court and improper scientific assessments of risk pushed by anti-scientific prohibitionists. But why should a legal challenge succeed now when a challenge failed in 2003-4? There are at least ten reasons to believe it will succeed this time.  >> read the full post