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Big Pharma Undermining NHS Quit Service Advice

Pro-ecig training carried out in 2016 is being undermined by Big Pharma.

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The Proprietary Association of Great Britain (PAGB) is the UK trade association that represents the manufacturers of branded over-the-counter medicines, self care medical devices and food supplements. As one of the mouths for the pharmaceutical industry, it is attempting to push its nicotine replacement therapies at the expense of more successful vape products.

It claims to have “a long and distinguished track record as the industry self-regulatory body ensuring balanced and responsible marketing of self care products”, but advice it is sending to Quit programs goes against the NHS training carried out in 2016.

Following the Public Health England report, the NHS updated its website to reflect current understanding relating to vaping. The NHS took the stance that:

  • “On current evidence they carry a fraction of the risk of smoked tobacco.”
  • “E-cigarette use carries only around 5% of the risk of smoking.”
  • “There is no evidence of direct harm from passive exposure to e-cigarette vapour.”
  • “Evidence from a number of studies indicates that e-cigarettes can help people quit smoking, with similar or better results than nicotine replacement therapies such as patches or gum.”
  • “Daily use of tank models that can be refilled with liquid may give smokers a better chance of quitting.”
  • “E-cigarettes can help people to quit.”
  • “Among under-18s, while experimentation with e-cigarettes is fairly common, regular use is rare and almost entirely confined to those who have already smoked.”

As a consequence, the National Centre for Smoking Cessation and Training (NCSCT ) updated its briefing on electronic cigarettes and carried out a training exercise for national quit centre staff. It was recognised that vaping has worked far better than traditional NRT products despite not featuring as a licenced treatment.

In a paper titled Service specification for stop smoking services, PAGB are seeking to undermine the NCSCT when it says: “abstinence from tobacco use by using licensed treatments is an important part of this process for many smokers.” They fail to mention vape products.

Laughably, it goes further: “With the exception of ‘reducing smoking rates in pregnant women at the time of delivery’, ‘smoking prevalence’ is defined as being reliant on either tobacco products or nicotine substitutes (as opposed to licensed nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs)).” They are making a direct claim, like that generally accepted as a definition in the States, that vaping is as good as smoking because it’s not a licensed therapy.

It demands quit services only use “licensed therapies to support smokers in quitting in preference to unlicensed alternatives.” Fortunately, some eagle-eyed vapers were promptly on the case.

Neil Robinson wrote on Twitter: “NCSCT, are you aware of this, and will you be warning SSS commissioners not to use it?”

John Summers went further and contacted leading vape advocate and academic Linda Bauld: “Did you know this pharma group is trying to undo last year’s training?”

Bauld replied: “Yes, and colleagues are taking some action.”

Have you had difficulty having your vape products accepted by a quit service? Let us know.

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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