We celebrated ETHRA’s first birthday, an organisation now powered by 22 European consumer groups [link] and readying itself for a fight over the next generation of the Tobacco Products Directive. With barely time to digest the birthday cake, ETHRA set about calling for help with responses to the SCHEER report [link]. If anyone doubted organised groups were needed then proof came with the news that 80% of French people believed that nicotine is carcinogenic and a shocking 75% do not know that vaping is less dangerous than smoking [link].
Research fruitloops were out in force with some saying metal atomiser coils caused the EVALI lung disease outbreak [link] and others believing people would be stupid enough to swallow the findings of their fish murder spree [link].
Facts aren’t something you can invent even if you want to ignore them. The US Centers for Disease Control had some facts about teen vaping – it’s down [link]. So much for vaping being “highly addictive” and there being an “epidemic”. It turns out America is more like the UK than it would like to believe. In Part 3, we recapped how English vaping rates appear to show that vaping was nothing more than a fad for teens, now we discover that the same thing is happening in Wales [link].
Ash Wales’ Suzanne Cass commented: "With e-cigarette usage falling amongst young people, this evidence demonstrates that vaping is not a public health concern. The focus should be on addressing the unacceptable smoking levels amongst young people.”
Then, as if everyone had been preoccupied with something else for most of 2020, someone reminded us about Brexit. The government published draft regulations [link] and suddenly MPs and advocates couldn’t get enough of it again. Reference to it factored into conversations about the TPD [link], an outstanding letter to the government from the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA) and Clive Bates [link], Parliamentary questions [link], demands for legislative changes [link] and an oversubscribed NNA webcast [link] about the UK’s ability to escape EU restrictions.
We heard about the benefits vaping offers smoking mothers to be and experts were quick to address the shortcomings in a study on the matter published in October [link]. There again, it wasn’t hard for a layman to see the flaws, as pointed out by Emeritus Professor John Britton: “This is a poor study for several reasons – it isn’t randomised; there is no power calculation; there are only 10 e-cig users and two of them reverted to smoking before the babies were tested.”
We saw evidence of the sterling work done to try to help homeless tobacco users switch to vaping during the year as researchers identified clients in Manchester’s COVID homeless hotels [link].
Then there was the very welcome independent Cochrane evidence update stating that vaping is 70% more effective than traditional nicotine replacement products [link]. Unsurprisingly, falling teen rates, harm reduction for pregnant mothers and the homeless, and the benefits of vaping over NRT failed to make it out of any of the mainstream media outlets into articles.
Nobody wanted to talk about findings from the University of East Anglia [link] showing that vaping doesn’t just help smokers quit but also prevents long-term relapse when there was a second lockdown to look forward to [link].
Finally, PayPal decided to contract the Facebook jitters [link]. Despite telling people that it wasn’t a problem, and it wasn’t trying to close the accounts of vape businesses, PayPal proceeded to close all vape business accounts over a two-week period. Moreover, it also closed some accounts of consumers it suspected may have sold a mod second-hand or once been a business owner. A trade body responded with advice [link].
Happy Christmas, season’s greetings, and here's hoping 2021 is going to be at least seven times better than 2020..