Denial of the Echo Chamber

One of the many reasons I have a blog is so that I can spout, mostly nonsense, into the ether my thoughts on a particular topic that piques my interest. Most of the posts on these pages cover the various bits of “science” – mostly bad science – that grab sensationalist headlines, that do nothing more than to confuse a highly nuanced subject. Most of the time I am fairly factual, though quite often I will, quite frankly, take the piss.

It’s cathartic.

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Our survey says….

Surveys. I’ve touched on the usual suspects upholding their own data as though it was the Holy Grail before. ASH is utterly remorseless when it comes to trumpeting their own data, usually for their own means, and they also heap scorn on data that contradicts their sacrosanct view of the populace. Typically, in the UK we have two primary sets of survey data on smoking – the ASH survey (hosted by YouGov) and of course the Smoking Toolkit Study.

Both of these, along with many others run by Cancer Research UK, consistently show that never-smoking-teens rarely pick up e-cigs. They also consistently show little or no progression from e-cigs to combustible tobacco. They also consistently show a decrease in smoking prevalence at the same time there’s an increase in e-cig prevalence. It’s hardly the silver bullet to prove (or disprove) “gateway” theories correct or otherwise; after all it is still perfectly feasible that some insanely curious folks will experiment with both. It’ll happen.

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Control, control, you must be controlled

As I’m sure you’re aware, England has had their ridiculous ban on smoking in cars since September 2015. They even “celebrated” the anniversary this year where there was a totally unremarkable 3% decline in self-reported exposure in kids to smoke in cars – using their own survey figures of course. Now the so-called “ban” in England didn’t apply to Scotland, so instead they had to create their own version of the Orwellian legislation.

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Feel the Heat, not the Burn

In case you haven’t been paying attention, the news is awash with an announcement from Philip Morris saying that their Heat-not-Burn product iQOS is coming to the UK. London specifically – for the moment at least.

Well, so what you might be asking, why has a new product launch attracted so much press? The answer to that is two-fold. One, it’s a new product from a tobacco company. We all know how much folks are beginning to despise the tobacco industry – particularly those in tobacco control and public health. Two, it sits in the middle-ish of the “risk-profile” (if such a thing is to be believed) with combustibles at the top, abstinence at the bottom, NRT, e-cigarettes, and snus all feature.

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Consistently inconsistent

Readers will remember the “guidance” issued by Public Health England in a vague attempt to convince business owners, and other individuals that vaping in the workplace is not, in reality, such a bad thing, nor is it actually illegal. Folks will of course remember this post from Vapers in Power about banning smoking AND vaping on a beach. There is of course, this one where Nottinghamshire went beyond insanity and banned smoking AND vaping on any and all council owned property – including outside. I had a few words to say about that too.

Y’see, getting folks to change their mind on banning vaping in public places should be fairly straightforward right, or at least you’d think so. After all, there’s a substantial amount of evidence to support not banning it. But hey, if you’re in power who needs evidence? As demonstrated last month when Simon Cooke tried to introduce a more enlightened approach to vaping in Bradford. Simon wrote an article detailing just how far removed his fellow council members were as they put forward some daft and contrived justifications in order to dismiss the idea entirely.

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Precisely what risks?

As part of the implementation of the Tobacco Products Directive – 2014/40/EU – and specifically Article 20, the section that relates specifically to e-cigarettes the European Regulatory Science on Tobacco (EUREST – what can I say, the EU does alphabet soup better than the Americans) – the EU wanted a report on the “potential risks” of the product. To be fair, that is a laudable goal considering the use of the product. The problem, of course is the implementation. Not to mention the cost.

The report, edited by Constantine Vardavas and Panagiotis Behrakis (and no, I couldn’t actually pronounce those names), complete with a list of experts (I’ll leave it to you to decide how “expert” they are) – Agaku Israel, Filippidis Filippos, Girvalaki Charis, Gratziou Christina, Lundback Bosse, Maciej Goniewicz, Radu-Loghin Cornel, Tsatsakis Aristidis, Tzatzarakis Manolis (and no, I couldn’t pronounce those names either), and presented to the Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety Health Programme (I’m surprised they didn’t make an acronym out of that) cost EUR €180 450. You can find the grant award here, search the document for Chafea/2014/Health/17.

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