December 18th, 2014

More baseless propaganda from the Faculty of Public Health

Michael Ventura

Does the Faculty of Public Health now resemble its enemy?

Yet another vacuous comment on e-cigarettes has just appeared from the Faculty of Public Health.  This time in response to the publication of the credible and cautiously optimistic Cochrane Review [press release / review] on e-cigarettes and quitting smoking. In The Times article on it, E-cigarettes double chance of quitting (£), there was a quote from this increasingly weird organisation, apparently desperate to find some bad news to offset the good… >> read the full post

December 15th, 2014

Debating e-cigarettes with Professor Martin McKee


There is much discussion about willingness to enter debate about e-cigarettes following this letter from Professors McKee, Glantz, Chapman and Daube.  I will return to this letter shortly, but in the meantime here’s an example of how it works in practice. In July, I sent an email to Professor McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, challenging some of the criticisms of legitimate scientists he had made in the media, suggesting he discuss his concerns with the scientists he was criticising, and personally offering to debate with him debate in a public forum.   Here’s the what I sent: >> read the full post

December 6th, 2014

Anti-complaint about e-cigarette advertising

Holding back the vaping insurgency

I’ve recently been stressing the unintended consequences of regulatory interventions on vapour products… and that these are almost always ignored by public health activists, to the detriment of public health.  This applies to overly cautious restrictions on advertising. The idea is that too much restriction will reduce the appeal and vaping buzz, degrade the communication of the vaping ‘value proposition’ to smokers, inhibit communication of innovation and limit brand building.  In other words, it will weaken this important insurgent technology relative to cigarettes, protect the incumbent and lead to fewer switching, more smoking and more disease.  My contention is that the unintended consequences will outweigh the intended consequences of most advertising restriction by some distance.

I hear there have been over 130 complaints about ads for VIP e-cigs released on 10 November to coincide with lifting of the ban on actually showing vaping and vapour products on TV. So I decide to write to the Advertising Standards Authority with an ‘anti-complaint’ setting out the public health case for the allowing these ads (note: without any involvement of VIP).   >> read the full post

December 4th, 2014

A blunt challenge to some common arguments against e-cigarettes


“Live with it”

Professor John Britton is in the top tier of public health professionals in the UK.  He is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, Director of the UK Centre of Tobacco Control Studies and Chair of the Royal College of Physicians Tobacco Advisory Group.  He has been one of the most important influences on the generally positive approach the UK takes to tobacco harm reduction over at least the last 15 years.  A selection of relevant work he has led includes: RCP(2000), RCP(2007), RCP(2008)PHE(2014) and Thorax(2103).  And he still runs a respiratory clinic and see people who are ill.  So it is always interesting to hear what he has to say and how he chooses to say it.  Directly and bluntly, as it turns out… >> read the full post

November 30th, 2014

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.
>> read the full post