Guest Post: Welsh Local Health Board Continues to Demonize Smokers and Vapers Alike

The following post is from Rhydian Mann, these are his thoughts on the “Red Button” debacle.

It has been 2 weeks since a West Wales health board called Hywel Dda implemented what I can only describe as one of the most extreme forms of ridiculous “Tobacco Control” measures in the history of looking after the health of people in Wales. For those who want the background, please check out this trumpet blowing.

*deep breath*

Continue reading “Guest Post: Welsh Local Health Board Continues to Demonize Smokers and Vapers Alike”

GFN 2016: Evidence, Accountability and Transparency (Part One)

Well I’m finally back after a hectic few days in Warsaw for the Global Forum on Nicotine 2016. I really wish I had decided to fly out earlier and stay a bit longer as everything felt a little squeezed on my trip. But, bottom line is it was really worthwhile. This will likely be a multi-part blog as there is a lot to cover. Continue reading “GFN 2016: Evidence, Accountability and Transparency (Part One)”

Time to talk Tax

There is a strap-line from HM Revenue & Customs – “tax doesn’t have to be taxing” – yet despite their best efforts, if you really want to wade through the system, you are going to have to employ someone with letters after their name. The proles don’t really stand a chance of navigating the endless forms, cross referencing and waiting. Not to mention there are certain rules that need to be followed with regards to things like wage slips, P60 (end of year stuff for UK employees). Yet I’d be willing to bet that many folks don’t wholly realise how much tax they actually pay. Especially when it comes to tobacco. Continue reading “Time to talk Tax”

Open Letter to all my Representatives

This letter is intended for all MPs, MEPs and Lords.

Thank you for your varied replies to my correspondence, it is appreciated that you take time out of your busy schedules to read and reply.

Unfortunately I am dismayed at the wide variety of those responses, not to mention the boilerplate responses which are intended to say very little other than provide some limited platitude. Those boilerplate responses did not address any of the concerns I had raised. It is a classic fobbing off and I am incredibly disappointed that you have felt it necessary to do that, to put it mildly.

This issue is important, not just for me but for 2.8 Million current vapers and for 9.6 Million current smokers. This issue has arisen due to unnecessary interference from the EU and will now be considered a factor by many in the upcoming Referendum.

The Tobacco and Related Products 2016 legislation that has been transposed from the EU Tobacco Products Directive (2014/40/EU), specifically the sections related to Article 20 of the Directive, will have far reaching consequences that have not been considered in the Impact Assessment[1] considering that one of the stated aims of the Directive is “to harmonise the EU market” – a noble idea with one fatal flaw – at least 15 Member States have no implementation of the Directive, some Member States have “gold plated” the Directive – specifically, banning cross border sales, which is against one of the stated aims:

To reduce obstacles to trade in tobacco and related products within the EU by reducing differences between the regulatory regimes in different EU Member States.

Further to the UK Government’s own Impact Assessment, Action on Smoking & Health[2] and their own commentary on certain aspects of the legislation[3] specifically related to the limitations on nicotine strength available under this legislation ignores one of the key reasons why electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes/vapourisers) have worked for so many (2.8 Million UK users) – the pleasure principle[4], and grossly underestimates the effect that the nicotine strength limits will have[5].

I am one of that 2.8 Million that will be negatively impacted by this legislation, because I made a choice on June 11th 2014 to switch to vaping, but this isn’t about me. This is about the 9.6 Million adult smokers in the UK[6] and giving them the choice to switch to an alternative to smoking. Both Public Health England[7] and the Royal College of Physicians[8] have released reports on this subject, and both are proposing that e-cigarettes are part of a harm reduction strategy:

However, in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking in the UK.

The limitations being imposed by the transposed Directive – the 10ml refills, 2ml tank size and limits on nicotine strength will have serious negative consequences for recent and new switchers. It is a matter of record that the research the EU used to draft these limitations was grossly misinterpreted[9], and sadly the science continues to be misinterpreted, or worse ignored.

It has become astonishingly clear that some are intent on keeping this legislation in its entirety despite the furtherance of research into the subject of vaping. Recently a Fatal Motion in the House of Lords had been proposed for debate, now that Motion has been changed to a “Regret” motion alongside two other motions[10] and an urgent debate under Standing Order 24 in the House of Commons has been deemed “not proper” to be discussed under So24[11], yet a debate on this subject is exactly what is needed.

The legislation, as it stands – and specifically the transposition of Article 20, is in a vital time where the portion directly related to e-cigarettes could have been nullified by the House of Lords thereby opening the way to regulating these products in a far more proportionate manner, allowing new users to switch if they wish and allowing existing users – both experienced and recent switchers – to continue using these devices to remain smoke free.

I urge you, my elected representatives, to open urgent debate, be open to both sides and give 9.6 Million smokers the same choice I myself made almost two years ago,  and 2.8 Million vapers the opportunity to continue to choose the alternative to smoking.

Paul Barnes

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Not Your Average Vaper

To be fair, I’m not your average anything. I have multiple – often conflicting – views on a wide range of subjects, most of which will never end up on this blog. When I switched to vaping almost two years ago (June 11th 2014 in case anyone is interested), I had absolutely zero interest in all the nuances of vaping. At all.

I joined some Farcefook groups, engaged with like-minded folks – gamers, geeks, IT people, doctors, electricians, plumbers, carpenters, bloggers, and folk that do weird things on Twitter – people from all walks of life. Different ages – mostly older than me at the time, though there were a few that were younger. The community was, and still is as wide and as varied as the devices folk choose to use.

Continue reading “Not Your Average Vaper”

The growing gulf of sanity in Tobacco Control

There are times when I do get a kick out of receiving e-mail updates from medical journals. The Lancet in particular (it is free, and somewhat annoying at times – especially the “Department of Error” – which doesn’t actually tell you much in the e-mail, you have to click the bloody link – unlike every other link in the mail) does give plenty of entertainment value. Their own manifesto is a source of much hilarity, considering its penchant for allowing ridiculous anonymous smear jobs in its esteemed digital pages. The logo itself “The best science is a good start” provokes a minor snort and a Spock eyebrow, but it’s the message underneath that is my source of hilarity (emphasis mine):

We at The Lancet believe it is our moral imperative to empower research and to grow the social impact of science.

Improving lives is the only end goal that matters, and research is only relevant when it has impact on human lives. We therefore select only the best research papers, based on their quality of work and the progression they bring: the best science for better lives.

Have they seen the drivel that’s been posted? Probably not. Today’s little op-ed is another corker.

Continue reading “The growing gulf of sanity in Tobacco Control”