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2021 - Third Quarter Thrills

A hugely successful second quarter for the UK ended with a conference banning advocates in the third quarter, and so the wheel continued to turn

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The second group of three months was hugely positive in the United Kingdom but the fight for sense continued into the third quarter. Advocates were ostracised, America’s teen epidemic was roundly debunked, and consumer organisations worked tirelessly. Meanwhile, the tide began to turn against disposable vapes.

The Asia Pacific Association for Control of Tobacco banned advocates and consumer organisations from its conference [link]. Clearly, this is an indication that they are losing all of the arguments and are now seeking to silence any opposing voices. It followed all academics intending on presenting their work at GFN21 being emailed warning them they would face problems obtaining future funding if they attended.

Professor Linda Bauld, a reputed expert in public health, says data simply doesn’t support the notion of a fictional American teen vaping epidemic [link].

We Vape launched its Back Vaping Save Lives campaign, encouraging vapers to challenge the government to stand up for vaping at COP9, so that millions of smokers can switch from combustible cigarettes to a scientifically proven alternative.

Adding to the positive evidence, a team led by Peter Hajek published another paper documenting a randomised controlled trial looking at the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation. The team concluded: “In smokers with a history of unsuccessful quitting, [electronic cigarettes] were more effective than NRT both in terms of CO-validated reduction in smoking of at least 50% and in terms of smoking cessation.” [link]

Payment company Klarna added a bit of drama into vapers’ lives when it prevented purchases being made for some ecig products. Two companies contacted Planet of the Vapes about the issue, with one reporting that its account had been frozen and meant that £6000 was locked away from the business. [link]

ASH UK and Cancer Research UK reported that the number of people vaping had risen to 3.6 million, the same figure as 2019. Worryingly, “nearly a third of smokers incorrectly believe vaping is more or equally as harmful as smoking (32% compared to 34% in 2020).” [link]

This, combined with the news that higher levels of nicotine increased smoking to vaping switch rates [link] added to the weight of evidence in favour of the government taking positive steps to change legislation. Unfortunately, ASH UK are not in favour of this for unknown reasons.

European Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates released a series of graphics and a video to support its EU Nicotine Users Survey 2020 report. The results came from more than 35,000 EU respondents and confirm that there is an unstoppable movement towards harm reduction in Europe. [link]

The World Health Organisation released a report in which its director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus described vape devices as “harmful”, adding they should be “better regulated.

The UK Vaping Industry Association responded, saying: “The fundamental difference between the UK and the WHO is that the UK has taken a science and evidence-led approach towards vaping. And the evidence clearly shows the enormous role vaping products play in helping smokers to quit and stay quit. The WHO, on the other hand, has chosen to do the prohibition route, effectively calling for a ‘ban on everything’ except combustible tobacco products – does that sound like an organisation trying to reduce smoking?”

Professor Britton said in a statement: “This report demonstrates that, sadly, the WHO still doesn’t understand the fundamental difference between addiction to tobacco smoking, which kills millions of people every year, and addiction to nicotine, which doesn’t.”

UK-based public health agency Knowledge Action Change stated: “The [WHO] is continuing its misguided insistence that vapes, snus, nicotine pouches and heated tobacco devices, collectively known as safer nicotine products, are a threat. This ignores the growing international, independent evidence that they offer millions of adult smokers the opportunity to quit deadly combustible tobacco.”

The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping said 2021 is a “pivotal year” as it published a report calling for smokers and vapers to have “access to, and information about, a wider range of safer, reduced-risk, nicotine products to help them quit combustible tobacco – ensuring their experiences remain front and centre of the policy debate.” [link]

UKVIA said: “The document acknowledges the huge strides the UK has made in recent years taking vaping from a place where it was routinely talked about as being ‘as bad as cigarettes’ to its position today where leading health experts and politicians all agree it is an indispensable resource for helping smokers to quit their habits for good.”

The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group (Cochrane TAG) published more in the series of papers concluding that vaping works [link], Yorkshire Cancer Research took to funding starter kits for mental health patients [link], and fifteen past presidents of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco Research wrote about the “considerable evidence” suggesting that vaping is “an effective smoking-cessation tool for adults” [link].

The UK Vaping Industry Association and the Independent British Vape Trade Association both demanded action on illicit and inappropriately branded disposable vaping products, but fell short of demanding the industry took a stronger line on ensuring it recycled its products more efficiently.

Trading Standards reported a number of raids in response to illegal disposables [link], but DOVPO was the only company to announce it would be taking proactive steps for the environment [link].

Come the end of September, Planet of the Vapes decided enough was enough and issued a policy statement in support of its decision to stop taking advertising for disposable ecig products [link].

We may not be able to single-handedly stop the scourge of disposables, but we can push for change. Prohibition historically has never worked, and we tread a fine line as the spotlight will be focussed once again on vaping and we need to be ready. There needs to be better awareness in the wider world of the lack of provisions for the safe disposal of these devices and the implications of their use. If we work together, we can make a real and meaningful difference.”

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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