Blog

Goodbye, Dr. Murthy. You won't be missed by vapers

On 7 April, I wrote this about Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the then U.S. Surgeon General: 

"The fact that they are at least 95 per cent safer than combustible tobacco appears lost on Dr. Murthy. He has also concluded that exposure to second hand vapour is harmful, despite studies proving the opposite. Of all the things that young people could mixed up with, e-cigarettes are likely to be the least harmful. Although I am not advocating the use of tobacco or nicotine, the elephant in the room is that if e-cigarettes did not exist, many of those young Americans who have tried them would have gone on to smoke cigarettes. He should be grateful that this is not happening and that those young Americans who have tried e-cigarettes are not experimenting with much more dangerous drugs. But these things are always lost on the evangelical proselytising purist. Their focus is so narrow that they completely fail to see the bigger picture. 

"We need to keep on stating the bleeding obvious until people like Dr. Murthy are replaced by those pragmatists with open minds. In some countries, I fear that we are in for a long wait."

Well, I didn't have to wait long. As the Huffington Post put it, "And On His 92nd Day, He Fired The Surgeon General". He, of course, being Pres. Trump. I am please Trump has done this. Here's hoping that he is replaced by someone with an open mind. 

WATCH: Has Science beaten smoking?

At this year's Freedom Festival in Bournemouth, I chaired a panel discussion on vaping where I asked the following question: "Has science beaten smoking?" Joining me on the panel were Martin Cullip, Blogger; Angela Harbutt, Development Director at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA); and Chris Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at the IEA. 

The video below contains the first half of the debate. Thanks to a technical gremlin, the whole debate wasn't recorded, but it does give you a more than a flavour of what we discussed. 

Should e-cigarettes be sold to non-smokers?

An adult walks into a corner shop and asks for a packet of cigarettes. They name the brand they want and then pay for them. They walk out and light up. Does this sound like a perfectly legal activity to you? But what if the person who bought the cigarettes had never smoked before? Do you think the shopkeeper should have asked beforehand and refused to sell them cigarettes if they were going to smoke them for the first time? 

Before I go on, I am not suggesting that there should be a vetting procedure before someone buys a packet of cigarettes. So why does the Independent British Vape Trade Association (IBVTA) think the same should apply if someone wants to buy an e-cigarette or some e-juice? Here is a quote from Richard Hyslop, Chief Executive of IBVTA, published in today's Sun:

“Vape products should not be marketed to non-smokers or those under the age of 18.

“However, figures produced by organisations such as the Office for National Statistics and Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) demonstrate that over 90% of vapers in the UK are adult current or former smokers, therefore we do not believe this to be a significant problem.”

I agree that almost everyone who buys vape products are current or former smokers; no-one is doubting that. I agree that there isn't a significant problem, but why does IBVTA want people who are considering smoking to go ahead because it's their choice (which it is), but doesn't want any of its members to sell to someone who has never smoked, but is considering vaping, any vape products? 

Read more

Freedom to Vape responds to Royal Society for Public Health report on vape shops

If you have something to say, then say it. If you don't, keep your mouth shut. There's no point in trying to invent news. If you do, it will be obvious to everyone that that is what you are doing. If only the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) thought this way. 

The RSPH "report" published yesterday claimed that almost nine out of ten vape shops (87 per cent, to be precise) sell vaping products to non-smokers. This, RSPH said, breaks the Independent British Vape Trade Association's (IBVTA) code of conduct, which says:

"Vape products are for current or former smokers and existing users of vaping devices, therefore never knowingly sell to anyone who is not a current or former smoker, or a current vaper."

The title of the report could have easily read, "Adults sold legal products. Read the shocking story". Electronic cigarettes are, after all, a consumer product. They are bought and sold freely which is why they are so successful - the number one quit aid, according to Prof. Kevin Fenton of Public Health England. We also know that more than 97 per cent of vapers are former or existing smokers.

The report is a non-story if ever there was one. The blogger, Dick Puddlecote, has written a wonderful post about it. Clive Bates has written to the RSPH telling them what he thinks of it. I urge you to read them both. 

As I wrote yesterday, there are times when you have to state the bleeding obvious. Today is another one of those days. As Clive Bates said yesterday: 

"...the primary purpose of this exercise has little to do with public health but is a publicity stunt for an ailing organisation in a declining field that offers ever less to the public or to health." 

Clive Bates is stating the bleeding obvious, but it needs repeating until the media realise that the RSPH has basically used them to get publicity for a non-story. 

There are times when you have to state the bleeding obvious

A new study has found that "regulations on electronic cigarettes may impact their effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool". Tell me something I don't know. The EU's Tobacco Products Directive has created reams of paperwork that make the production of some e-liquids uneconomical. Reducing the maximum size of e-liquid bottles to a measly 10 ml, means e-liquid is going to be more expensive. It should go without saying that if more burdens are placed on an industry, the less competitive it is going to be. If products start costing more, fewer people are going to buy them. In the case of e-cigarettes this means their effectiveness as a smoking cessation tool is going to be weakened. 

As this new study published in the journal Nicotine & Tobacco Research highlights, those countries that are actively hostile towards vaping and vapers have a lower take-up. As I have said in the title of this post, there are times when you have to state the bleeding obvious. 

Read more