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The EU Crusade Against Vaping

As both Snowdon and Puddlecote reported today, the EU – along with 167 other signatories to the WHO FCTC – are set to travel to Geneva for the Conference Of the Parties session 8 (COP8), whereby they’ll completely ignore the founding principles of the Protocol – as I discussed recently.

As with any gathering of the soulless anti-smoking extremists, there’s always going to be something that is a step too far. In this case, it is all about the “depiction of tobacco use in the arts”. The proposal for this is here, whereupon the ‘Expert Group’ grandly report thus:

Media depictions of tobacco use beyond traditionally paid mass media advertisements have been documented and assessed for their potential to increase youth tobacco uptake and normalize tobacco use. Entertainment media content such as movies, music videos, online videos, television programmes, streaming services, social media posts, video games and mobile phone applications have all been shown to depict and promote tobacco use and tobacco products in ways that may encourage youth smoking uptake.

So, therefore, an action is required. Except that, ‘depictions of tobacco use’ in entertainment media content encouraging youth smoking uptake is only in the minds of demented tobacco controllers; most notably Stanton A. Glantz. Interfering with the public’s entertainment on the say-so of twisted, single-issue activists maniacs.

As Snowdon and Puddlecote point out, the EU is an FCTC member, a rather large and ridiculously influential one. In case you were expecting them to object because the proposal goes too far, you’ll be mistaken. They’re objecting because the proposals do not go far enough. Naturally, the EU want vaping to be included:

The EU welcomes the report of the Expert Group on tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship and supports its recommendations… [The EU] stresses that TAPS [tobacco advertising, promotion and sponsorship] regulatory frameworks and their implementation at national, regional and international levels do not only cover all tobacco products, both traditional and emerging ones such as heated products, but should also consider tobacco-related products such as ENDS.

As any long-term vaping advocate will tell you, the EU once told the UK that it can’t ban e-cigs outright. Then vapers and various representatives that bothered to listen to vapers told the EU couldn’t ban them outright. At the time ASH was all in favour of prohibition – though I highly doubt much has changed, after all, they keep lobbying to preserve the regulations as they are.

Given that when the Tobacco Products Directive was being revised back in 2013, you’d think that those involved would look back to that decision and look at the mountains of evidence presented by Public Health England, the Royal College of Physicians, Cancer Research UK and other researchers such as Dr Farsalinos and Ricardo Polosa; that they might think “hang on, we were utterly and laughably wrong” and change their tune toot-sweet.

Given today’s revelations, it would seem they’ve decided to double-down on their approach which flies in the face of existing and emerging evidence.

As with any EU dealings at an international level, an agreement has to be reached (likely by QMV) with all member states (given the state of the current withdrawal negotiations, the UK is sure to be excluded), and once an agreement has been reached no member state will have any power to object at COP8.

Given that the latest Tobacco Control Plan is kinder to harm reduction technologies and products, it’ll be interesting to see how serious the Department of Health really is about it. The Advertising Standards Authority is already working on proposals to relax the current rules on e-cig advertising rather than the EU’s preference of outright prohibition, so the direction of travel in the UK differs significantly from that of the EU.

Amusingly, the proposed total ban on all online media would encompass PHE and NCSCT, so the Stoptober campaign along with any information put together by the NCSCT (who are all about smoking cessation) wouldn’t be allowed.

As Puddlecote points out:

If, as I suspect, the UK Department of Health – who, remember, are advised by ASH about FCTC matters – doesn’t nip this in the bud, all arguments that we are better in the EU because we can have input will be washed away. If UK government policy which has produced brilliant results can be undermined by an anti-democratic gravy train urging an entirely unelected and unaccountable global cartel – both of which entirely cut the public out of their discussions – to prohibit vaping adverts worldwide, you have to ask what is the point of being in the EU delegation when we could represent the UK instead.

Quite.

We’ll be watching this closely.

(Image credit Vuk Kostic / Shutterstock.com)