April 17th, 2014

WHO plans e-cigarette offensive



WHO: preventing the prevention of preventable deaths?

The Financial Times reports on the World Health Organisation’s strategy for undermining e-cigarettes and diminishing the potential for tobacco harm reduction [WHO plans to regulate e-cigarettes in the same way as normal tobacco (£)].  I have now obtained a copy of the leaked document the FT refers to.  This document is the  WHO FCTC Bureau minutes from November 2013 and it reveals a great deal about this remote and unaccountable organisation.  It shows how it is planning to use the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to apply the same sort of restrictions to non-combustible nicotine products like e-cigarettes that are applied to the far more dangerous smoking products.  This is a continuation of an attitude that WHO displayed at the last Conference of the Parties (COP-5) in 2012: see my Open letter to COP-5  delegates, which includes links to WHO’s papers on what they call Electronic Nicotine Deliver Systems (ENDS) and smokeless tobacco (SLT).   That open letter to delegates also attracted many comments from tobacco and nicotine experts expressing concern about WHO’s negative approach. So far, WHO appears to have had no change of heart.  >> read the full post

April 6th, 2014

E-cigarette advertising code consultation

Are you scandalised or pleased by this?

Scandalous? Or a smart way of selling an aspirational and life-saving switch from smoking to vaping?

On 27 February, the UK Committee of Advertising Practice published a consultation document on new rules to cover advertising of e-cigarettes – the closing date for responses is 28 April.  This would cover all UK e-cigarette advertising until the Tobacco Products Directive Article 20(5) is implemented in 2016, and would continue to cover all advertising not then banned under the TPD.   I hope the TPD advertising ban will be subject to legal challenge – it deserves to be – and will be replaced by something much more like these rules.  The Tobacco Advertising Directive 2003/33/EC bans all tobacco advertising that can theoretically have cross-border effect (TV, radio, publications, internet etc), but this is justified at Recital 3 on the basis that smoking kills in excess of 500,000 people per year in the EU. No such justification applies to e-cigarettes.  The proposals from the UK regulator are are much more proportionate and realistic balancing of the various risks and opportunities.  Here is my response to the consultation, which I hope also gives my views on why I think e-cigarette advertising is positive for health, justifying a liberal approach to the commercial freedom to advertise … >> read the full post

March 25th, 2014

Rogue research group opens the slurry gusher again

Slurry gusher: over-claim, over-hype and then spread it...

Slurry gusher: over-claim, over-hype and spread it…

Within a couple of weeks of a fake gateway effect discovery, more bogus science emerges, stretched to the limits of credulity and then hyped beyond to the media and into the grateful arms of the suggestible, wide-eyed world of tobacco control.  This time it is Rachel Grana and colleagues at University of California at San Francisco, part of Professor Stanton Glantz’ group, which is rapidly becoming a slurry gusher of black propaganda, media-political spin and unethical practice. The release follows an established track: >> read the full post

March 13th, 2014

Cease and desist: making false claims about the gateway effect


Gateway effect: maybe… but is it an entrance or exit?

I am totally exasperated by spin about the so-called gateway effect.

Unable to take any more, I decided to write to Professor Stanton Glantz and Dr Lauren Dutra, the authors of an analysis of teenage smoking and e-cigarette use based on the US National Youth Tobacco Survey:  Dutra LM, Glantz SA. Electronic Cigarettes and Conventional Cigarette Use Among US Adolescents. JAMA Pediatrics  online 6 March 2014. I hope the letter is self-explanatory.

>> read the full post

February 27th, 2014

Updated info post: TPD – provisions relating to e-cigarettes

Sounds impressive!

Updated 27 February 2014. The articles and paragraphs have been renumbered to take account of inserted articles and paragraphs. Article 18 becomes Article 20.  This is the full Tobacco Products Directive as it stands now (online source).  It is due to be agreed word for word by the Council on 14 March 2014. It will enter into force shortly after publication in the Official Journal (likely May 2014). The text below is designed to help you work out more easily what will apply to e-cigarettes, liquids and vaping devices.

Article 20 is divided into 13 paragraphs and cross references several other articles.  It is also supported by a set of recitals. The following are the broad themes and structure of the article – click on these to navigate to the relevant text:

>> read the full post

February 26th, 2014

MEPs – do you really want to vote for this?


Time to do the right thing

Hundreds of politicians, civil servants, ministers and lobbyists have been busy on the tobacco products directive for more than a year. Is the result of all that work a credit or embarrassment to the European Union? MEPs vote on it today. My letter to say they should drop article 18. I sent variations to MEPs in the each of the main political groups.

>> read the full post

February 25th, 2014

Unable to take any more, I write to Dr Nathanson of the BMA

Vinenne Nathanson, BMA

Apex of the public health establishment – but are their views on e-cigarettes coherent and well-informed?

I powered up the iPlayer to listen to Chris Snowdon of IEA (and a vaper) and Vivienne Nathanson of the BMA debate e-cigarettes  on You and Yours 21 February 2014. This was on the occasion of Vype e-cigarettes beginning an advertising campaign on TV.  Vype is made by Nicoventures, the e-cigarette subsidiary of BAT – British American Tobacco - so it is of course controversial.  I was depressed and disappointed by some of the arguments made by Dr Nathanson, though sadly these are all too typical in the public health establishment. 

… unable to take any more, I decided to email Dr Nathanson to ‘pick up on a few points’ made in the interview.
>> read the full post

February 9th, 2014

Let there be light! Guest blog from stop smoking service manager

Brilliant account of a stop smoking service thinking about the true mission, showing curiosity, innovation and passion. I hope the other services are inspired to try similar… open minded experimentation (and evaluation) vital in public health. It’s also a fine example of the empathy and humility in public health I called for recently.

Guest blog starts here…

By Louise Ross, Leicester Stop Smoking Service Manager >> read the full post

February 5th, 2014

Tobacco directive – surgery needed to remove harmful e-cigarette text


European Parliament President Martin Schulz MEP – he has work to do

Procedural position. The difficult situation with the Tobacco Products Directive is summarised very well by Martin Callanan MEP – here.  The only way to reverse some of the absurd, impractical and excessive regulation of e-cigarettes now built into the Tobacco Products Directive is to have the MEPs vote for/against individual parts of the directive, in what are called ‘split and separate votes’ in which Article 18  or some part of it can be voted down so it can be done again, properly.  It seems that even at ‘first reading’, it is not possible to amend this text because it has been blessed by the ENVI committee. We know with reasonable confidence that the various weird restrictions, prohibitions and burdens will diminish the appeal of e-cigarettes and protect cigarettes, while doing almost nothing for health. If it is not possible to treat the harmful text with sensible amendments, then surgery is required to remove it.  And the time to press for that is now… >> read the full post

February 2nd, 2014

Ombudsman says rogue process beyond her brief – I say ‘look again’

Does it do what it says on the  tin?

Does it do what it says on the tin?

On 13 January, I made a complaint to the European Ombudsman about the European Commission sidestepping the treaty requirements for consultation, reasoned justification, impact assessment and scrutiny of legislative proposals when it comes to the 4,500 words of new legislation about e-cigarettes negotiated in secret in a process that has led to scientific, legal and procedural defects.  This has led to further exchanges… >> read the full post