Public Health double-talk

Public Health double-talk

When I woke up this morning I wasn’t expecting a whole host of shenanigans to be floating around the media. I knew that something was coming at some point thanks to some very good friends in the know, all very secret squirrel like. What I didn’t expect was the sheer insanity of it all.

After listening to Simon Clark at Vapefest about the situation with proposed vaping bans coming simply because smoking has already been banned in public, it made perfect sense. The whole “denormalization” of smoking smokers began a long time ago, culminating with the situation we have now, like dominoes smoke-free laws were passed and now it’s “normal” to go into a pub, if you can find one that’s open and have a beer without being “engulfed in a fug”.

Recently in the UK attempts have been made to pass smoke-free laws for outdoor spaces, such as parks in London, playgrounds in Cornwall and the South West. Voluntary bans in town squares (which if I still smoked I’d totally ignore) and so on. It’s all getting a little bit silly.

Enter the latest in the line of utter absurdity.

Call for pub garden smoking ban

Oh yes, no longer would you be able to go to your local on a beautiful sunny day, have a beer in the sun and smoke.

The Royal Society for Public Health said smoking should be seen as “abnormal” and more controls are needed to cover areas where people gather.

There it is in black and white. Smoking should be seen as “abnormal”. The RSPH also suggest that to get a “fix of nicotine” folk should use e-cigarettes. Interestingly, the RSPH have a press release stating that “nicotine is no more harmful to health than caffeine”, and there is even some news that the majority of folk don’t actually believe that. I wonder why that is? It couldn’t be anything to do with the decades long crusade on smoking could it?

clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease

I get more than a little fed up with being referred to as someone “addicted to nicotine”. I’ve been called a “filthy addict” recently during a visit to my dentist. I was outside walking down the high street and I took a puff on my SubTank, and because I am at least semi-responsible I blew the cloud directly upwards so that it wouldn’t drift directly into anyone’s face, yet I still got called a “filthy addict”. Charming people.

I had hoped that I would have been able to leave all those disgustingly horrible comments behind when I switched to vaping, but no. It seems that the mere act of inhaling something then exhaling a cloud of smoke or vapour warrants being called all kinds of disgusting names. Bravo to the anti-smoking “charities” for the marvelous social engineering job they’ve performed over the last few decades. It is now common place to see comments such as this wonderful gem:

Nice comment…

Well done folks. Then of course there are “letters” to papers such as this. With comments like:

they are allowing e-cigs to be smoked in the walkways of our shopping centres. What is the effect of the large clouds of vapour (which are exhaled) on other members of the public, especially if the e-cig user has a cold or the flu?

Does this “John Connor” not realise that simply breathing when you have a cold or the flu is exactly the same thing, the difference between a non-vaper/smoker when they have a cold and someone who vapes is that you can see the exhaled vapour. That’s it!

Along with:

The government should step in and ban e-cigs immediately for the long-term health of the general population and especially our children.

So this fellow wants e-cigs “banned immediately” for the “long-term health” of the general population and especially our children? Doesn’t have any comment on tobacco cigarettes then? It is more than a little suspect that this “letter” appears so quickly after the release of the RSPH report.

It seems that The Royal Society for Public Health, yet another “charity” are clamoring to have “exclusion zones” in outdoor spaces, because (according to a report) “the 2007 smoking ban inside public places has been a huge success”.

Never mind the unintended consequences of a declining pub trade, all because RSPH want smoking to be seen as “abnormal”, so by an enforced smoking ban in beer gardens, al fresco eating areas, parks and outside school gates; all the places that smokers like to be because that’s where they were sent as a result of the 2007 ban are now proposed off-limits. This is, without doubt simply health fascism. Additional persecution of an already marginalised group by bandying about prohibitionist measures without any consideration for any consequences.

Remember these comments?

Smoker hate speech

All those comments are before the implementation of any additional “measures”, how many more will arise as a result of these proposals? These public health types have absolutely no idea the harm ideas like this cause, and I’m not talking health harms, I’m talking psychological. How many names or negative comments have been directed towards you as a vaper / former-smoker? I wonder how long it’ll be before comments escalate to actual violence, if it hasn’t already done so?

Now the RSPH are “endorsing” e-cigarettes.

Health chiefs across the UK have been urged to take a less negative attitude towards e-cigarettes and embrace their use in the battle against more harmful tobacco smoking.

I get the distinct feeling this is an eleventh-hour salvo being fired in order to garner some trust from within the vaping community. I have a problem with that, it is a double-faced attack where the RSPH are throwing smokers to the wolves whilst trying to mollify vapers. They seem to completely forget, or deliberately ignore the fact that they are forcing folks to choose between smoking and vaping, rather than encouraging them to switch. But even that has a hidden agenda.


They want to ensure that all retailers that sell tobacco also sell e-cigarettes, uh no thanks. I’d rather buy my hardware and liquids from specialist retailers who actually know what they are talking about rather than some “Johnny come lately” at a supermarket. But that isn’t what the official press release from the RSPH actually says:

Mandatory sale of Nicotine Replacement Therapy in shops selling cigarettes. In one study fewer than 0.5% of retailers sold Nicotine Replacement Therapy; almost three quarters of the public (70%) support mandatory sales of such products;

“Mandatory sale of NRT”. NRT, not e-cigarettes. Is this a slip up by the reporters trying to be friendly to e-cigs or a statement of intent from RSPH? I’m suspecting the latter, after all once the TPD is in effect the MHRA are the “responsible body” that has been appointed to oversee the regulations. No smoke without fire it seems.

“Greater use of e-cigarettes by SSS”; well blow me, aren’t many stop smoking services across the UK already e-cig friendly? Seems like these buffoons are trying to steal some credit for the hard work of folks like Louise Ross here.

Licensing for retailers that sell cigarettes? Uh no. All this does is allow local authorities the ability to revoke the ability for a retailer from selling a product if they “don’t act in accordance with tobacco legislation”. Sledgehammers and nuts spring to mind, considering they refer to the situation in Australia where it was “found that a positive licensing scheme led to a significant increase in awareness of tobacco regulations and in Tasmania led to a 95% compliance rate”. More wibble.

Even worse? They’d like to rename e-cigarettes to “vapourisers”, “nicotine control products” or “nic stick”. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the name “e-cigarette” as it does immediately form an association with “cigarette” and all the negatives that go with it. But the name was chosen to make it easier for smokers to understand what they were. It’s a name we’re stuck with despite repeated efforts of many to call them something else.

We already have plenty of bans on smoking, including the latest ban on smoking in cars with children on board (but a 17 year old can smoke in a car, but can’t buy) and other measures such as the utterly daft and unproven plain packs debacle.

It is at least semi-positive that the RSPH are seemingly warming up to e-cigarettes by offering their endorsement with the recent report on nicotine, and the suggestion to use “nicotine products” in place of smoking has far too many strings attached.

Comment from Hazel Cheeseman, ASH

Scientists have known for many years that it’s the smoke in cigarettes that’s deadly, not the nicotine. Unfortunately, this is not well understood by smokers, medical professionals or the media

Sadly, part of the reason for that is the continued demonization of tobacco and all associated products most of which originate from organisations such as ASH. Whilst I understand that ASH have a group of stakeholders to appease and are only now just beginning to show quiet positive support for e-cigarettes in the final twelve months before the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive. I suppose lukewarm support is better than outright hostility, but I get the sense that ASH, RSPH, PHE, DoH, CRUK are effectively too little, too late to make any difference to the impending regulations.

Unlike the original smoking ban the focus is no longer on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Considering that the report from RSPH was under embargo until 00:01 today, the number of reports and press-releases has raised quite a few red flags in my mind. Then I read the “report”.

Harm reduction ’ladder’

It is telling that RSPH have decided to place e-cigarettes as only a single step down the “Harm Reduction Ladder” above the more traditional nicotine replacement therapies until I spotted this snippet:

“A study examining attitudes to NRT products found similarly concerning misperceptions amongst smokers, with 69% not knowing that they are less dangerous than cigarettes and 76% not knowing that they are less addictive”

Reading between the lines a bit here, it seems to suggest that RSPH believe that e-cigarettes are more addictive than NRT whilst simultaneously being less harmful than smoking. Yet they cite studies that claim NRT isn’t addictive but the only difference between an e-cigarette and NRT is the delivery method of the nicotine content. Wibble.

What is interesting is the quote of a Populus poll that suggests 50% of patrons would be more likely to use pub gardens if smoking was banned. Eerily similar to ASH’s claim that “smoking bans are good for business” back in 2003 and we all know how that turned out don’t we?

The only positive to take from this mess is the attempt at destigmatizing nicotine which many believe is pure evil, everything else from bans in outdoor spaces to renaming e-cigarettes can go to hell.