December 1st, 2016

To tax or not to tax? Response to EU on taxing vaping and other reduced risk products



European Commission consultation: the Commission is consulting on applying excise duties (i.e. tax) to vape products and other reduced risk alternatives to smoking – see here for consultation page with online form for interested parties to complete – please do add your response.

New Nicotine Alliance response: I have been working as an Associate Member of the New Nicotine Alliance to put together a briefing for this consultation. The NNA summarises the main points: EU Tax policy – harmful to health – our briefing.

There is no case on principled or practical grounds to apply excise duties to vaping products and other products that offer a much safer alternative to smoking. The value to health and wellbeing associated with switching from smoking to vaping will exceed any benefits arising from revenue collection.

Main briefing: The full briefing: Revision of the Tobacco Excise Directive: Implications for low-risk nicotine products (24 pages – PDF)

Summaries: the Executive summary and Conclusion of the briefing are reproduced below.

Idealised excise regime

Summary: idealised excise regime

>> read the full post

November 23rd, 2016

How does Big Tobacco see its future? Guest blog by Jonathan Fell

City of London

What is the tobacco industry up to?  Let’s ask someone from the City who knows about it…

Note from Counterfactual. There’s much speculation and theorising from public health academics about what the tobacco industry is doing and what motivates it. But this often based on a simplistic understanding of business, markets and how the industry (indeed any industry) works, and seasoned with selective reading of now-dated industry documents. I thought we might gain more by asking an analyst and investor for his views. So here is a guest post from Jonathan Fell, a former City of London investment bank equity analyst with over 20 years’ experience following the tobacco industry and other consumer packaged good companies. He now manages a fund, in which he himself invests, that owns shares in a number of consumer companies, including tobacco stocks.

These are Jonathan’s own views. This piece is not intended as investment advice, nor should it be taken as such.

________ Jonathan Fell’s guest blog starts here ________

>> read the full post

November 9th, 2016

WHO's anti-vaping scientific castle of cards toppled (updated)



Updated 9 November with UKCTAS report translations

The UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies (UKCTAS) has produced a devastating critique of the WHO paper on ‘Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems’ (e-cigarettes or vaping products to everyone else).  The paper by WHO is for the 7th Conference of the Parties to WHO’s tobacco control treaty, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, (FCTC COP-7) which will be held in Delhi 7-12 November, 2016.

A tremendous effort by the authors John Britton, Ann McNeill, Linda Bauld and Ilze Bogdanovica, and the reviewers (disclosure: I was a reviewer).

The report speaks for itself, so here are the relevant links to the report, some unofficial translations and the executive summary.


>> read the full post

November 6th, 2016

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller gives outstanding speech on smoking, vaping and public health - listen

Quite simply the best speech I have ever heard on tobacco and nicotine policy, science and ethics. From Tom Miller one of the architects or the United States Master Settlement Agreement and Chair of the Truth Initiative.  A model of decency, humility and rigorous scientific reflection, in my opinion.

The speech was given over lunch at the Food and Drug Law Institute Tobacco Conference, 27 October 2016 in Washington DC.

General Miller’s speaking notes are available here (check against delivery).

November 2nd, 2016

WHO tobacco meeting - could the FCTC do something useful on vaping?


But can WHO help?

I’m sometimes accused of being a WHO-sceptic, or worse. No more! In the run up to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control  COP-7  meeting in Delhi, 7-12 November, I have been challenged to say something positive about how the FCTC could do useful and constructive things on vaping and tobacco harm reduction from a public health point of view, other than the default answer “absolutely nothing at all”.

I sometimes refer to ENDS – Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems – to mean vaping equipment and liquids, e-cigarettes etc. Apologies.

Here we go… >> read the full post

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