Politics & Campaigns

NNA Details Committee Concerns

The New Nicotine Alliance has written to express its concerns about statements made during the Health and Social Care Committee oral evidence session conducted last Wednesday

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The New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) has written to express its concerns about statements made during the Health and Social Care Committee oral evidence session conducted last Wednesday. Two panels of witnesses gave evidence and were questioned by MP members of the committee and the NNA was “extremely disappointed” by the “many instances of incorrect statements, myths, mistaken beliefs and even simple falsehoods expressed by MPs and panellists.”

The NNA says: “We watched proceedings on Parliament TV and were disappointed that much of the discussion was inaccurate and often ill-informed. In light of this, we have written to the committee today to highlight the many inaccurate, misleading, or false statements and remarks during the hearing. We hope committee members will recognise these areas of concern and take them into account when considering their future recommendations.”

On the addictiveness of vaping compared to smoking, the NNA noted that multiple times people said vaping was more addictive than smoking.

Laranya Caslin said: “Once they are vaping, the level of addiction is perhaps higher than it would have been among smokers.”

Paul Blomfield said: “We have heard from previous witnesses that vaping is more addictive than smoking. [...] Why do you think that your product is more addictive?”

The NNA clearly states that there is no evidence for this belief: “If anything, research is showing the opposite.”

The charity evidences its position by citing Public Health England, studies, remarks made by The Office for Health Disparities and Improvement, and the International Tobacco Control Policy Evaluation Project.

On the relative risk of vaping compared to smoking, the NNA says: “We were surprised to see doubt cast on evidence commissioned by the government and published by prime public health research organisation, Public Health England (now OHID).”

It points out that the Lancet article cited by Dr Caroline Johnson in her attack on the 95% safer figure “was written by an avowed anti-vaping activist, Martin McKee, and relied on an incorrect assumption that the assessment was derived from a single 2014 study.

“In reality, the PHE review cited 185 items of research to come to its estimate. The assessments were made by independent expert scientists in the course of formulating their extensive evidence review. The Royal College of Physicians also came to the same conclusion in 2016 after referencing 680 research items.”

On there being no long term data, the NNA responds: “It was disappointing to see a disingenuous tactic commonly used by ideological vaping opponents crop up during the discussion.

Just because we do not yet know everything about vaping, it does not follow that we must know nothing about the future risks. It is inconceivable that vastly lower toxicant exposures will not lead to much lower health impacts. In fact, there is a large body of toxicology that does not rely on long- term epidemiology to quantify long-term risk. For example, we would not need to wait decades to discover that smoking was dangerous if it was introduced today.”

Then, when it comes to ‘popcorn lung’ being discussed, the charity says: “We are truly astonished that the committee entertained a blatant untruth during the session. There is absolutely no evidence for this whatsoever. It is incredibly disappointing that a high-profile doctor should believe something which has never been true.

The NNA concluded by encouraging the Committee “to familarise yourselves with how the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT) supports vaping; to enable Stop Smoking Services (SSSs) to embrace vaping, the Centre has produced vape training, a vaping briefing (new version about to be published), guidance on working with vape shops, the economic argument for using vapes in SSSs and a suite of YouTube films to educate professionals who talk to smokers and smokers who need to know about vaping.”


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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