Martin Dockrell is the Tobacco Control Programme Lead for Public Health England (PHE). He joined PHE after 7 years at Action on Smoking and Health. Martin has worked in Public Health since the mid 1980’s when he was involved in HIV prevention work. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Public Health.
He begins his interview by explaining how he became involved in public health, beginning in the 1980s with the AIDS crisis and working to promote needle exchange programs. After working in the area of sexual health, Martin moved to tobacco control in the mid-2000s.
He was keen at the outset to have a “more mature” conversation” about tobacco harm reduction and was keen not to repeat the polarised conflicts that existed in other spheres of harm reduction.
An ex-smoker himself, Martin’s sister contracted cancer and struggled to give up smoking after going into remission. Through her experience with electronic cigarettes, and the guidance from experts such as Linda Bauld and Professor John Britton, Martin broadened his understanding of vaping.
PHE Updated its position in February, and said:
- The proportion of young people who have never smoked who use EC at least weekly remains very low (0.2% of 11 to 18 year olds in 2018)
- The proportion of 13 and 15 year olds who have ever smoked declined steadily between 1998 and 2015, including after the introduction of EC. In this period, young people’s attitudes became more negative towards smoking
- Only 0.4% to 0.8% of adult vapers are people who had never smoked
- Quitting smoking remains the main reason for vaping in all socio-economic groups
Martin speaks eloquently about vaping and the need for a harm reduction approach: “Right from the outset, we wanted to maximise the opportunities that e-cigarettes present, while managing the risks. We were never under any illusion of the risks…but equally we knew the huge scale of the opportunity. We have six million smokers in England, and that’s 220 deaths a day – that’s a plane crash EVERY DAY.”
The full interview can be watched in the video and out thanks go to Brent Stafford for the time and energy he puts into producing this excellent service. Regulator Watch provides outstanding vaping coverage but can only exist with support [link].