Politics & Campaigns

Ministers Attack Vaping

Ministers attacked vaping in a Backbencher Business debate on Electronic Cigarettes led by Conservative Dr Caroline Johnson – who has become a vocal opponent to tobacco harm reduction

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Ministers have attacked vaping during a Backbencher Business debate on Electronic Cigarettes. It was led by Conservative Dr Caroline Johnson, a politician who has become a vocal opponent to tobacco harm reduction and is seeking to ban all disposables. She said vapes have “moved from being a stop- smoking device to an alternative addiction”.

Dr Caroline Johnson began the debate by telling attending MPs that vapes “are attracting many non-smokers”. Intentionally misleading the House didn’t end to well for her namesake ex-Prime Minister.

Despite knowing that repeated studies have proven the efficacy and popularity of vapes, and the substantial decline in the number of smokers by 4 million as vaping soared in the UK, Dr Johnson remains a denialist – stating it “cannot be attributed entirely to vapes.”

Then Johnson kicked into full alternative fact mode: “In the Health and Social Care Committee yesterday, we heard from the industry that it estimates that around 5 million people currently vape in the UK, which means that, even by the most generous estimates, 2 million of them were not smokers beforehand—a significant proportion of the vaping market.

“With the market estimated to be worth £4 billion a year, these products clearly have huge profit margins. Vapes have been available for a long time, but if they are genuinely safe, healthy devices that save lives by stopping people smoking, why does the NHS not provide any on prescription? I wonder whether it is because they are not safe and the NHS has been unable to develop the safety profile as well as it might wish.”

In the space of a couple of minutes Dr Johnson removed any lingering doubt over her motives. There is no evidence that 2 million vapers never smoked – and there is clear evidence why there are no medical vapes: because no company believes the cost of development and application would be recouped through producing a prescribable vape, not to mention the NHS is not responsible for developing such devices.

Then she traduced experts at Kings College London and Public Health England.

The idea that e-cigarettes are 95% safer than smoking was quantified by Public Health England. Members will no doubt have heard the figure before, because the vaping lobby never tires of repeating it, but if we look into its origins, its veracity seems to suddenly disappear,” she claimed.

It is complete, unmitigated nonsense.

A plethora of evidence has emerged about the negative effects of these novel and fast-evolving devices,” she lied, ignoring that such studies have been largely debunked upon publication and some retracted by their publishers.

The ignorant wittering continued: “As we delve deeper into the topic, it becomes evident that a growing body of evidence links vaping to severe complications. Chronic bronchitis, emphysema, increased blood pressure and significantly worse physical performance are just some of the adverse effects associated with vaping that scientists have found.”

Invoking the nonsense that surrounded EVALI in the United States, she continued: “I would like share a distressing incident from my constituency. In just one school, St George’s Academy in Sleaford, there have been eight reported cases of children collapsing after vaping.”

Continuing by ignoring that these were clearly not legal vapes: “They found Velvana Fridex Eko, a modern non-toxic coolant intended for cooling cast iron and aluminium engines, as well as Avanti coolant antifreeze, Steol-M, which is designed for filling hydraulic devices, and Rauvolfia serpentina, or Indian snakeroot.”

Then she railed against corporate sponsorship: “Totally Wicked sponsors Blackburn Rovers and a rugby team as well, so the stadium is called Totally Wicked. The young men on the pitch—the heroes, as he called them, who those young men and women admire so much—are running around with T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Totally Wicked’. He said that the young people’s ones do not have that logo on. I checked this morning and found no evidence of them selling any junior shirts, which begs the question of what happened to them all. The suspicion might be that they have disappeared off sale—we do not know.”

As any football fan knows, clubs run down stock at the end of season and hold very little over the summer because new lines are launched at the beginning of next season – but she sees corruption instead of commerce!

Briefly, common sense resumed as Assistant Whip Craig Whittaker supported access for smokers to vapes and heated tobacco products, but then the nonsense resumed with SNP Transport Spokesperson Gavin Newlands.

Then Labour’s Wes Streeting stood up and lent his support to Johnson’s proposal to ban disposable vapes.

The most troubling point came when Neil O'Brien, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care supported Johnson’s speech, calling it “brilliant”, adding, “over the last two years we have started to see a surge in the use and promotion of cheap, colourful products that do not always comply with our regulations. As hon. Members have mentioned, there has been a sharp increase in children vaping and the awareness of vaping.”

As noted by POTV over recent weeks, there is a troubling slide in support for vaping from the government and they appear increasingly ready to throw vapers and smokers under the wheels of the electioneering bus.

I absolutely appreciate the calls for single-use vapes to be banned due to their environmental impact, and also because of their appeal to young people,” he continued. “We are concerned by the increasing use of these products and their improper disposal, for the reasons my hon. Friend mentioned. We are exploring a whole range of options to address this through the youth vaping call for evidence.”

We are committed to doing all we can to prevent children from starting vaping, and we are already taking robust action in a range of areas. We are also looking closely at how we can go further.”

Dr Johnson concluded: “I urge him to review the evidence. We are in a situation in which our headteachers are telling us that children must be able to vape so that they can discuss the flavours to fit in with their peer group, and we must get away from that. This issue is urgent and I urge the Minister to act quickly.”

The threat to vaping is real – contact your MP and share your success story.

Photo Credit:

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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